Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dealer: West

Vul: N/S

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


South West North East
  Pass 1 Pass
1 Dbl. 2 Pass
4 All Pass    

Opening Lead:4

“He had softly and silently vanished away,

For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.”

— Lewis Carroll

Although there are plenty of points between the North and South hands, there are also four losers. (This deal is from the final of the Mixed Pairs at the 2006 World Championships.) Can you see which is the only loser that might reasonably go away, barring some huge luck in the heart suit?


West led a low spade against four hearts, won by dummy’s king. Declarer continued with a diamond to the queen, taken by West’s ace. Winning the spade return in hand, declarer cashed the diamond jack, then attacked trumps by leading low from hand. West won with the queen to return a third spade to dummy’s queen. A club went away from hand on the diamond king, then a heart to the ace set the scene. With no miracle in hearts, declarer’s only hope of eliminating her club loser was that the hand with three trumps held no more than two clubs.


So South cashed the club ace, then played a club toward dummy’s king. Ruffing this would not have helped the defense’s cause — West would only be ruffing a loser — so she discarded a diamond. But that only delayed the inevitable. South rose with dummy’s king, then exited with a trump.


West won the trick and, with no club to return, was forced to lead either a spade or a diamond in the two-card ending. Either way, declarer had a ruff and discard, jettisoning her club loser.

ANSWER: If you considered bidding three hearts, shame on you — your hand is far too good for a minimum action. You could be forgiven for simply bidding four hearts, but with such bad trumps and so many high cards you should bid three no-trump. After all, you might survive a bad heart break in that contract. Playing for penalties by passing could work, but it is a huge gamble.


South Holds:

K Q 2
J 8 4 3
K 8 7
K 7 2


South West North East
  3 Dbl. 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