Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dealer: North

Vul: None

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


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Pass 2 NT Pass
3 Pass 4♣* Pass
4 NT Pass 5 Pass
5 Pass 5 Pass
7 All Pass    
*Cue-bid for spades

Opening Lead:K

“Doing easily what others find difficult is talent; doing what is impossible for talent is genius.”

— Henri Frederic Amiel

In today’s spade grand slam you have 12 top tricks. The best plan for a 13th is to set up a long heart. As the only way to reach any established long card in hearts is with a trump, you will need the trumps to break no worse than 3-1. How will you go about setting up the hearts, though? If West is short in hearts, as in the diagram, you need to be careful.


After winning the club lead with dummy’s ace, you should cash the diamond king-queen, followed by the heart ace. You then cross to dummy with a trump and play the diamond ace, throwing the heart six from hand. Now you can afford to ruff a heart in your hand with a low trump. You return to dummy with a second round of trumps and lead another low heart, ruffing it with the ace to circumvent any potential overruff. Next you play another trump to dummy, drawing West’s remaining trump in the process. All that remains to do is to cash the heart K-10, discarding the club 8-5 from hand and leaving you with a trump to take care of dummy’s club jack. You make six trumps, three hearts, three diamonds and a club.


With the cards lying as shown, if you do not discard a heart on the diamond ace, you would end up promoting a trump trick for West. In fact, the recommended line loses only when West has a doubleton diamond, a far less likely holding than a doubleton heart.

ANSWER: In this sequence it is current expert practice to play a call of two spades as natural. The question is whether this hand is good enough for that call. I would reserve it for a better hand or suit. So pass and plan to back in later in spades when and if the opportunity presents itself.


South Holds:

A 8 6 5 3 2
A 6
8 5 3


South West North East
  1 Pass 1


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