Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 18, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: N/S

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


South West North East
2 NT Pass 3 Pass
3 Pass 5 NT* Pass
6 All Pass    
*Pick a slam

Opening Lead: 2

“Which of us … is to do the hard and dirty work for the rest — and for what pay? Who is to do the pleasant and clean work, and for what pay?”

— John Ruskin

Today’s deal from the quarterfinals of the World Championships in Beijing contains two problems for the price of one. First, after borrowing a high card to open two no-trump (which usually shows 20-21), how should South play six spades after West leads a club? And, second, what line would you follow after a more challenging heart lead?


On a club lead you win in hand, draw trumps, and then go after diamonds to establish a discard for your heart loser. Best is to cash the king and lead to the nine. If this loses to an honor, you cross back to the club queen in dummy and lead up to the diamond 10. This loses only when West has the diamond queen-jack, when he might have led the suit.


If West finds the heart lead, you need to find an endplay to force the defenders to lead diamonds for you.


Win the heart with the ace, draw trumps, and eliminate the clubs by cashing the three top winners, ending in dummy. Now exit with a heart, assuming that if one defender has no top diamonds, he will win this trick. Therefore, you need to find the queen and jack of diamonds in different hands.


Best defense is for East to win the heart and exit with the diamond queen, giving the declarer a losing option. But if South trusts the defenders, he will fly up with the ace and run the diamond 10 to make his contract.

ANSWER: Anyone who tells you he knows exactly how many points North has is probably fibbing. One no-trump is natural and denies real extras — but do you have enough to try for game? I’d say so. Your fit in diamonds makes this hand worth a call of two no-trump, which means precisely what it sounds like: Bid game with extras, and if it is wrong, it is your fault!


South Holds:

A Q 7 6 5
6 5
K 6 5
Q 10 7


South West North East
  1 1 Pass
1 Pass 1 NT 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