Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: N-S

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


South West North East
    1 Pass
2 3 4 Pass
4 NT Pass 5 * Pass
5 NT Pass 6 Pass
7 All Pass    

*Three of the five "aces", counting the trump as an ace

Opening Lead: King

“A learned man is an idler who kills time with study. Beware of his false knowledge: it is more dangerous than ignorance.”

— George Bernard Shaw

In today’s auction South asked for specific kings with his call of five no-trump, but North bid six hearts, unwilling to go past that contract with just the spade king. However, South knew his partner had to have at least one king for his bidding so far, so quite reasonably moved on to the seven-level.


A casual look at the deal suggests there should be no problem taking 13 tricks in hearts: declarer has 10 tricks in the majors and four tricks in the minors. A second glance reveals the bad spade break, but that appears only to reduce 14 tricks to 13.


The real problem comes with the lead of a diamond, which removes the side-suit entry to the spades. This means real care is necessary — but what else would you expect in a grand slam?


South won the diamond lead in dummy and, after counting the top tricks, prepared to protect himself against possible bad breaks. Since the auction showed that West was the hand far more likely to be short in spades, South decided to protect against this eventuality, with West also holding no more than two trumps. Instead of drawing all the trumps, he cashed the trump ace and queen, then took two top spades. Had they split, he would have completed drawing trump. When they broke badly, he ruffed out the spades, went back to the board with the trump king, and pitched his diamond on the 13th spade. Contract made.

ANSWER: Whether the jump to three clubs is weak or invitational, you cannot afford to sell out now. You must act, and the choice is to double for takeout or bid your spades. While spades might be your best suit, considerations of safety should suggest that the double will help you find your best fit whenever possible (and who knows, partner might pass for penalties).


South Holds:

K 10 6 4 3
A K 4
A 7 5 3


South West North East
  1 Pass 3


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