Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dealer: North

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
    Pass Pass
1 Dbl. 2 NT Pass
3 Pass 4 Pass
4 NT Pass 5 Dbl.
6 All Pass    

Opening Lead:3

“A prudent mind can see room for misgiving, lest he who prospers should one day suffer reverse.”

— Sophocles

In the world championships last autumn, USA’s elimination by Poland was something of a surprise. This was a deal that could have changed the match result.


Against the aggressively bid diamond slam, West led a heart. East took the ace and thoughtfully switched to the diamond five. Declarer’s prospects had improved considerably. Maybe that caused him to take his eye off the ball for just a moment. South let the diamond run to West’s 10 and dummy’s jack — and the contract could no longer be made.


Declarer cashed the club ace, ruffed a club, took the heart king (while pitching a spade), and ruffed a heart. Then he trumped a club high, played the spade king and a spade to the ace, ruffed a club, and cashed the diamond queen.


So far so good, but in the three-card ending, dummy was left with the diamond 9-6, East with the 8-7 and South had only one high trump in hand. Declarer could not ruff a spade low in dummy without being overruffed, and if he ruffed the spade high, East’s diamonds would be good enough to win trick 13.


The winning line for South was to go up with a top trump at trick two. Then declarer can play the hand in identical fashion but be left with the diamond J-9 in dummy. Now the crossruff cannot be prevented.


Only an initial trump lead defeats six diamonds, as East can play a second round of trump when he gets in with the heart ace.

ANSWER: If you feel inclined to enter the auction, the right way to do that is to bid two no-trump, suggesting both minors. The call is risky but not unreasonable. With king-third of spades, you might feel less happy about coming in.


South Holds:

A 8 5
J 9 6 4
A 7 5 4 2


South West North East
  1 Pass 1 NT
Pass 2 Pass 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