Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 8, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


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

Opening Lead: King

“Martin, if dirt were trumps, what hands you would hold!”

— Charles Lamb

In the duplicate game at the Cavendish Club in Manhattan, the following hand produced much discussion. The computer analysis showed that four spades can be made — but the play is especially entertaining.


After West leads two rounds of clubs, declarer can succeed by ruffing, drawing precisely one round of trumps, then crossing to dummy with a diamond and playing on hearts. But imagine declarer takes the more normal line of playing both top trumps as East discards a discouraging heart.


Now declarer plays the diamond queen and a second diamond. If West ruffs in, the defense is over. If he takes his last trump and then plays a third club, declarer can ruff, run the diamonds, and take a heart finesse. If West plays back a club immediately, declarer can ruff and lead his third diamond to bring about the same ending.


But there is a defense. West must discard, let’s say a heart, on the second diamond. Declarer now takes the heart finesse and cashes the heart ace. If West ruffs in, he can only collect his trump tricks.


So West discards a second time, and South tempts him again by leading a low heart, and West must discard a third time. Declarer ruffs his heart loser in dummy, but when he exits with a top diamond, West can ruff in, cash his spade queen, and lead a club. South ruffs, but must concede trick 13 to East’s heart king.

ANSWER: It is not clear that there is a right answer. Both double and an overcall of one spade are sensible, and both might work. But be aware that this hand, while close to a maximum for a one-spade overcall, is certainly not outside the range for the call. Bid one spade, expecting to be able to bid hearts or double for takeout at your next turn to show extras.


South Holds:

A K 5 4 2
A Q 8 5
Q 6 3


South West North East


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