Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dealer: West

Vul: All

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


South West North East
  2 2 NT Pass
4 All Pass    

Opening Lead:7

“The little girl had the makings of a poet in her who, being told to be sure of her meaning before she spoke, said, ‘How can I know what I think till I see what I say?”

— Graham Wallas

Over West’s two-heart pre-empt, North, with a balanced 16 points and a heart stopper, correctly bid two no-trump. The pre-emptive opening warns of bad breaks, so it is often right to play in no-trump rather than a suit contract.


West led the club seven against four spades. Declarer won in the dummy and drew two rounds of trump ending in his hand. Two losers in each red suit looked inevitable, but look what happened when declarer played on the only suit in which the defenders had communications — diamonds.


East beat dummy’s diamond nine with his jack and continued clubs. Declarer won with the ace, played a low heart to dummy’s queen, and played a low diamond. West won the 10 and continued with the diamond ace. Declarer ruffed in hand, crossed to a top trump, and led the club nine, discarding a heart from his hand. East had no choice but to give a ruff and discard, declarer’s last heart disappearing from his hand: four spades bid and made.


After the defenders did not take the heart ruff, there were two chances for them to beat the contract. Either West must go in with the diamond ace on the first round and play a second club. East can then win the second diamond and play a third club, neutralizing declarer’s possibilities in that suit. Alternatively, East must rise with the king on the second round of diamonds and again play a club.

ANSWER: I’m often asked whether the problems I set are for pairs, teams or rubber. With a hand like this, some might argue that South’s bid depends on the form of scoring or vulnerability. Do NOT listen to them! Weak-two-bids suggest at least a decent suit, with a limited amount of defense outside. In first chair this is too weak a suit for a pre-empt at any vulnerability or any form of scoring.


South Holds:

J 7 6 5 3 2
K 8 5
3 2
A 3


South West North East


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