Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dealer: West

Vul: N/S

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


South West North East
  1 Dbl. 2
2 NT* Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead:10

“Miss not the occasion: by the forelock take

That subtile Power, the never-halting Time.”

— William Wordsworth

In today’s exhibit from the 2010 NEC Cup, Tom Hanlon reached a delicate contract, and when he was given a small chance, grabbed it with both hands.


Against three no-trump you could make a case for leading the spade queen, but declarer can still succeed at double dummy. The only lead to set the game is a low heart from West. On West’s normal lead of the spade 10, Hanlon scored his spade jack and planned to take an immediate diamond finesse. The sight of the diamond king was both good and bad news; now he needed to find three more tricks from the hearts and clubs. The natural thing to do was to lead a heart to the king.


When West won the ace, that player knew his partner needed to hold very good clubs for the defense to prevail, so he shifted to a club, ducked by Hanlon. (A spade continuation by West would not have worked any better although it might have given declarer some losing options.) East won his club king and now reverted to spades, so Hanlon won in dummy, ducked a heart, and won the spade return.


When declarer cashed his red-suit winners, East had to pitch a club on the last heart. Hanlon now threw him in with the losing diamond at trick 12, forcing him to lead a club to declarer’s queen at trick 13 for the ninth trick.

ANSWER: Your partner’s two-spade bid is a game-try, suggesting extras and spade length. A singleton spade is good news, but you do have only three trumps and a minimum, with club cards that rate not to be pulling their weight. I’d sign off in three hearts rather than make the more constructive effort of two no-trump (which I would bid with the diamond queen instead of a small diamond).


South Holds:

K 7 4
8 6 5 4
Q J 7 6 5


South West North East
  1 1 Pass
2 Pass 2 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