Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

8 6 5 3 2
8 6 4
K 8 4
West East
8 7 5 2 6 4
J 9 7 K Q 10 4
Q J 9 7 A 5 3
10 2 Q J 9 6
Q J 10 9 3
K 10 2
A 7 5 3


South West North East
1 Pass 1 NT Dbl.
2 Pass 3 All Pass

Opening Lead:Q

“Success is a consequence and must not be a goal.”

— Gustave Flaubert

In today’s deal from the World Individual Championships held last year, South, Gay Keaveney from Ireland, would have raised three spades to four. But at matchpoints, he decided to protect his plus score. He was theoretically correct, but in practice wrong.


Against three spades West led the diamond queen, and East won with his ace and returned a diamond. Now declarer played in textbook fashion. He won with his king and played three rounds of clubs. He could not be stopped from ruffing a club in the dummy with one of dummy’s top trumps. So he won 10 tricks: five spades, one heart, one diamond, two clubs and the club ruff. Plus 170 was worth just under average for him: 7 matchpoints out of 16.


At every other table South declared a spade contract, five times at the two-level, once at the three-level and three times in game. The diamond queen was led every time, and eight of the nine declarers won 10 tricks. The only East to find the killing defense was Patrick Huang from Chinese Taipei. (At his table, the auction was as shown, except that West threw in a sporty two-diamond advance over South’s two-club rebid.)


Huang won the first trick and shifted to a trump. Then, when he got in with a club, he played another trump to kill the ruff. Plus 100 was a deserved cold top. As usual, once you see the point of the deal, it does look as if this defense can never cost.

ANSWER: With a hand like this, you have no idea what strain to play in or at what level. Best is to set up a game-force by bidding two diamonds, the fourth suit. Then raise clubs if you do not find spade support, and take it from there. Raising clubs or bidding no-trump directly is premature — and misleading.


South Holds:

Q J 10 9 3
K 10 2
A 7 5 3


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass


For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2009. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact

1 Comment

David WarheitOctober 1st, 2009 at 10:26 am

Hmmm. 3NT is cold (with the diamond king being obviously well-positioned). How come nobody got there? Can you come up with a sequence that would come up with this result?