Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, March 5, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
2 NT Pass 4* Pass
4 Pass 4 NT Pass
5♣** Pass 7 All Pass
*Short diamonds, setting clubs as trumps
**Three aces, counting the trump king as an ace

Opening Lead:2

“If there were dreams to sell

What would you buy?

Some cost a passing-bell;

Some a light sigh.”

— Thomas Beddoes

Sabine Auken of Germany would be many people’s choice for the title of Best Woman Bridge Player in the World. Look at her in action in today’s deal from a world championship.


Auken, South, was declarer in the uninspiring contract of seven clubs. However, the play justified the bidding.


West led a diamond to the king and ace. Declarer ruffed a diamond, crossed to the club queen, and ruffed another diamond. She now drew another round of trumps, cashed the spade ace, and had arrived at the moment of truth. The simple line is to take a heart finesse, and indeed this is what happened at several other tables. But Auken decided that given East’s likely diamond length (West’s jack had fallen on the third round), she also had a good chance of success if West held the heart king. She reasoned that West was more likely to hold the heart king than East because with neither red king, she might have led a heart. Leading from an honorless heart suit almost certainly would have been more attractive than leading a diamond from three to the jack.


So declarer played a club to hand and cashed her last club, her heart ace, her diamond queen and the last trump. Dummy held only K-Q-8 of spades, while declarer had a spade and J-3 of hearts in hand. West could not keep three spades as well as the heart king, so Auken landed her grand slam.

ANSWER: Nobody can say there is a right or wrong bid here, but I strongly believe that when the opponents pre-empt, as here, you cannot allow them to talk you out of playing for penalties by redoubling. It is up to your partner to run from two diamonds if he does not want to defend. So cross your fingers and pass — you do have quick tricks after all.


South Holds:

A K Q 8
Q 7 4
A 10 9 7 3


South West North East
Dbl. Rdbl. Pass 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


Michael BeyroutiMarch 20th, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Thank you Mr Wolff!

What a lovely hand! Superb! Stay tuned folks, the ones coming up tomorrow and next week are also all pure delight! Bobby Wolff at his best!

(I have the advantage of reading the live newspaper version of this blog)

Michael B.

Bobby WolffMarch 20th, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Hi Michael,

It is nice hearing from you again, especially so when accompanied by such a ringing compliment. With your introduction, I cannot wait to read next week myself.

Referencing the hand featuring Sabine Auken, I remember when she came on the scene some years ago, and has since really earned her accolades. Not only has she won multiple World Championships for her native Germany, but her play has always exhibited spectacular flair, such as the current column describes. From my point of view she is the closest female player in ability I have seen since the days of Helen Sobel, who I had the great fortune to play against when I was a very young man.

Please forgive the trip down memory lane, but that often happens when old people blog.

JUDY KAY-WOLFFMarch 21st, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Good moring Michael:

All this time, I have thought I was Bobby’s Number Uno Public Relations Person, but I am beginning to question the security of my position. Your appraisal of the upcoming hands this week were very intriguing and I can’t wait to see them myself. As you may suspect, they are written months in advance and though I read them at the time of completion, it takes several months until they appear in the newspapers. Unfortunately, living here in Vegas, we do not get to see them in our local paper so must wait until they appear on However, letters like yours (and those via personal emails) make Bobby feel so good to know that although they may not appear in one’s home town press, this marvelous blog site has made them available to people all over the universe (courtesy of Bobby’s long-time Syndicate, United Media).