Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: N/S

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


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

Opening Lead: Queen

“We will now discuss in a little more detail the struggle for existence.”

— Charles Darwin

The trump coup is a way to recover from a bad trump split by reducing your own trumps. Consider declarer’s line from a match between two U.S. teams in a recent Bermuda Bowl — and what the defense might have done about it.


Declarer for the USAII team ducked the top spade lead against four hearts. West now led a diamond to East’s ace and East continued the suit. Declarer won his king, then drew two rounds of trump to find the bad news.


The winning line is now to cash the top clubs (pitching a diamond), ruff a club, then go to the spade ace to ruff a diamond. Declarer exits with his spade loser at trick 11 and is left with the A-10 of hearts for the last two tricks.


In fact, declarer tried to ruff a diamond at trick six before ruffing a club, and East, Nick Nickell, astutely pitched his spade king. Nickell could now ruff away the spade ace, leaving declarer with a spade loser at the end.


Even if Nickell had reverted to spades at trick three, thus removing an entry from dummy, declarer could still have succeeded by playing three rounds of clubs at once, then cashing the diamond king and drawing two trumps to finish in dummy. Now declarer ruffs another club and exits with his spade loser, taking the last two trump tricks.


A spade continuation at trick two might have been more challenging, but declarer could still have prevailed with perfect play.

ANSWER: Your nonforcing three-spade bid showed 12-14 points and three or four trumps. Your partner’s cue-bid then suggested slam interest and short diamonds — improving your hand. In context, you have a moose. Cue-bid five clubs now and consider whether you have enough to move on to slam, even opposite a sign-off in five spades. The answer may depend on how much you trust your partner!


South Holds:

A 8 7 5
Q 2
8 6 3
A K 9 7


South West North East
1 2 2 3
3 Pass 4 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 2010. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact