Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, March 8, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
3 Pass 4 Pass
4 Pass 5 NT Pass
7 All Pass    

Opening Lead:2

“I planned her a nest in a leafless tree

But the passers eyed and twitted me,

And said: ‘How reckless a bird is he….’”

— Thomas Hardy

How often have we all received the advice to plan the whole deal at trick one — and ignored it, to our ultimate regret?


Today’s declarer carefully played the whole heart grand slam through in his head before touching a card, and that care paid off when his contract rolled home despite the unfavorable lie of his opponents’ cards.


When West led the heart two, declarer calculated that he could make his grand slam as long as spades did not split 6-0. If the spades split 3-3 or 4-2, it would not matter where the first trick was won, but if spades were 5-1, four entries to dummy were needed — three for spade ruffs and a fourth to access the set-up spades.


So, essentially, as it transpired, declarer won the trump lead in dummy, then ruffed a spade. A heart to dummy drew all the trumps, and this was followed by a second spade ruff. Now South’s care at trick one was rewarded when the 5-1 break came to light. A club ruff and another spade ruff set up four spade tricks in dummy, and they could be accessed by a club ruff with dummy’s last trump. Cashing spades from the top allowed South’s three losing diamonds and losing club to be discarded.


In the end declarer drew two rounds of trump, scored his remaining six trumps separately, and took four spade tricks and the diamond ace.


(Try winning the first trump in your hand; you will find the contract is unmakable.)

ANSWER: Declarer has shown a balanced 18-20 with a good club stop. Dummy looked for heart support or a spade suit, and East denied a fit. I can see that a club lead might work (especially if declarer has long diamonds and just one club stop). Equally, it might concede the game-going trick. I am torn between the majors; on balance, I’d be swayed by my heart intermediates to lead the heart nine.


South Holds:

10 6 2
9 8
Q 4 3 2
K 9 6 3


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