Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: None

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


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 4 Pass
4 NT Pass 5 Pass
6 All Pass    

Opening Lead:K

“Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.”

— F. Scott Fitzgerald

When this deal occurred at the Dyspeptics Club, South, in possession of his usual rock-crusher, tried a subtle and well-thought-out approach in the auction. His two-spade call was a help-suit try, ostensibly for game. When North admitted to extras or a suitable spade holding, South used Blackwood and bid the heart slam.


Alas, South’s declarer play did not match his bidding. He won the opening diamond lead, cashed the heart king, then played three rounds of spades, ruffing in dummy. Disaster! East overruffed and played back his last trump, killing the second spade ruff: down one.


North quite rightly took his partner to task for following a line of play that might have been appropriate in a grand slam. He suggested that it would have been better to cash the heart ace, then play on the crossruff. He had conveniently overlooked the fact that East would still have defeated the contract by overruffing the third spade in this variation.


The right line of play is to win the diamond lead, cash the heart queen, take the two top spades, ruff a spade high, then cross to the club ace and ruff the last spade low. East can overruff and return a minor suit, but declarer wins, draws the last trump, and can claim the balance.


It also works perfectly well to go after spades without touching trumps. You can ruff the third spade low, and, if necessary, ruff the fourth spade high, losing just one trump trick.

ANSWER: Your partner’s double suggests interest in penalties, but your hand is entirely unsuitable for defense. (You might have had four small diamonds and better spades and clubs for example.) Rather than risk a disaster, retreat to three diamonds and settle for a safer, if potentially less rewarding, spot.


South Holds:

J 10 8 4 2
K Q J 4
9 6 4


South West North East
    1 Dbl.
1 Pass 1 NT Pass
2 2 Dbl. 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