Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dealer: North

Vul: None

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


South West North East
    1 1
1 3 4 Pass
4 NT Pass 5♣* Pass
6 All Pass    
*Zero or three key-cards

Opening Lead:10

“Sometimes your best investments are the ones you don’t make.”

— Donald Trump

West leads the heart 10 to dummy’s ace against your spade slam. What is your plan?


The first move is to count your winners. If trumps are 3-2, you can make all of the tricks — five trumps, a heart, a heart ruff, the diamond ace and five clubs. However, there is a good chance that West’s pre-emptive raise to three hearts is based on a spade shortage. Suppose that the trumps are indeed 4-1.


If so, you now have a trump loser, but all that does is reduce your 13 tricks to 12 — provided you are careful. Your plan should be to lose a trump trick at a convenient moment. In fact, the only way to make the slam on this layout is to find the somewhat unnatural move of ducking a round of trumps at trick two. Imagine that East wins and switches to his singleton club. You win with the king, ruff a heart with the trump nine, and cash the trump ace. You can then return to your hand with the diamond ace to draw the remaining trumps. You have made six tricks already (three trumps, a heart, a heart ruff and a club), and there are six more waiting to be cashed — a trump, a diamond and four clubs.


Were you lucky or unlucky? You did run into bad breaks admittedly, but in context you were lucky because any nonheart lead from West sets the slam.

ANSWER: In situations of this sort, it is a mistake to act just because you have high cards. Doubling would be highly premature, and reraising spades with such a balanced hand is equally inappropriate. You would want to rebid spades only with a sixth trump, or with extra shape in the side-suits. So pass and leave it to partner to bid again with extra trump length.


South Holds:

K Q 7 5 3
J 7 2
A 9
K 6 5


South West North East
1 Pass 2 3


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