Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 4, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: None

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


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 5 NT Pass
7 All Pass    

Opening Lead:4

“There pass the careless people

That call their souls their own:

Here by the road I loiter,

How idle and alone.”

— A.E. Housman

On this deal from an Indian championship nearly 30 years ago, one table stayed in six hearts, just making. But at our featured table the contract was more ambitious. In seven hearts you might conceivably survive a 4-1 trump break. And since the other table is virtually sure to be in a slam, you need only slightly better than a 50 percent chance to score 13 tricks.


Alas, declarer did not give the hand the attention it deserved. He took the diamond-four lead in hand and played the heart king, followed by the ace. Now the contract could no longer make, because of the bad diamond break. Declarer actually drew the last trump and ruffed a spade to dummy, but had to use his last trump to ruff out the diamonds and thus conceded a club at the end.


As declarer needs only five diamond tricks, he should try to cater for diamonds being 5-1, which is the bad break he can cope with easily. The required play at trick two is to ruff a spade, then play the heart king and ace, and ruff a second spade.


At this point declarer can ruff a diamond back to hand (which will pass off peacefully if diamonds split, or West has the length, and will not cost the contract if West has a singleton diamond and only two hearts). As the cards lie, the heart queen and spade ace will take care of dummy’s losing clubs, and dummy is now high.

ANSWER: You will need partner to have quite a few values to set the hand, and you must try to set up winners before declarer establishes discards on dummy’s diamonds. The right suit to lead is clubs; partner did not overcall in spades, which he might have done if that was the killing lead. And your club cards could help to build winners for partner — which is not true of your spades.


South Holds:

10 6 5
8 4 2
A 10 4 2
Q 8 2


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