Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 9, 2010

Dealer: West

Vul: Both

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


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

Opening Lead: 7

“But if success I must never find,

Then come misfortune, I bid thee welcome,

I’ll meet thee with an undaunted mind.”

— Robert Burns

Had West opened the bidding in this deal, North-South might well have reached three no-trump, which would have been relatively easy to play, given the even heart split. As it was, West passed initially and overcalled on the second round. Now South had to play well to land the major-suit game.


West kicked off with a club against four spades. Declarer won in hand and played a spade to West’s ace. Another club was continued, won by dummy’s ace, and three rounds of hearts stood up. One possibility was for declarer to ruff a club and play a trump. However, if spades were 4-1, then East could take two top trumps and play a fourth round of clubs, promoting a fourth defensive trump trick.


Declarer logically assumed that West had six diamonds for the vulnerable two-level overcall, and could surely be counted for three cards in each of clubs and hearts, so it was probable that the spade ace could be taken at face value as a singleton. Accordingly, declarer continued with a fourth heart, East and South discarding diamonds. Declarer could not allow East to discard his other diamond, so he played a diamond to his ace and ruffed a diamond with the spade eight. East was helpless. If he overruffed and played king and another spade, declarer would make the spade queen and a long heart; otherwise, declarer would be in dummy to play another heart and establish one more trump trick.

ANSWER: Normal partnership agreements these days are to play “system on,” meaning that if you play Stayman in response to the opening bid of a no-trump, you play it in response to an overcall in no-trump too. Here, a 4-4 spade fit could very easily play better than no-trump (imagine partner with only ace-third of hearts for example). So bid two clubs and find out.


South Holds:

10 9 4 2
6 3
A Q J 4
K 6 4


South West North East
  1 1 NT 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