Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, March 19, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
2 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead:5

“We cannot bring ourselves to believe it possible that a foreigner should in any respect be wiser than ourselves.”

— Anthony Trollope

Bob Hamman always says that when you have to make a decision in bidding, if three no-trump is in the picture, bid it.


In this deal from the Houston Vanderbilt Knockout Teams, Hamman found himself in a decidedly dicey no-trump game, but you don’t get a reputation like Hamman’s by giving up.


West led a heart to the queen, ducked by Hamman. He inserted the jack on the heart continuation, losing to West’s king. Another heart cleared the suit as East discarded a club. Things looked bleak with the clubs and diamonds blocked, but Hamman cashed the diamond ace in case something nice happened, then took his two top clubs and played a spade to dummy’s 10. East won the king and started thinking — good news! Eventually, East returned a low spade to the jack and queen. Hamman cashed dummy’s club king as East pitched a spade. Now the diamond jack was covered all around as West pitched a club.


Hamman then played a spade to East, who was forced to lead a diamond from the 9-7 into Hamman’s 10-8: contract made!


East had more than one chance to set the contract, but his easiest was to win the spade king and play the diamond queen. Declarer is now blocked off from his own hand. (South could have avoided the possibility of this defense by not cashing the top diamond earlier.) Equally, had East pitched a spade instead of a club at trick three, the defenders would still have prevailed.

ANSWER: Although it might be right to defend two hearts here, it seems inappropriate to risk doubling the opponents into game with three small trumps. I’d try two spades now, without much confidence, hoping that partner knows from our failure to bid spades earlier that this could easily be bid on a four-card suit.


South Holds:

Q 10 7 4
9 4 2
J 6 4
K 8 4


South West North East
  1 NT Dbl. Pass
Pass 2 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