Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dealer: West

Vul: None

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


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

Opening Lead: 5

“The truth is rarely pure, and never simple.”

— Oscar Wilde

Today’s deal comes from the Carrousel Cup, a European junior event which was contested between eight national teams.


Playing in three no-trump, Maria Dam Mortensen as South won the club lead in her hand and could count eight tricks. Sensibly enough, she went after diamonds, leading the king out of her hand to try to establish her ninth trick. West took the king with the ace and returned a heart.


Declarer won in hand, and tested the diamonds. When they failed to break 3-3, Mortensen’s only realistic hope was spades. The most likely division of the top spade honors was one for each defender, but declarer realized that this would not help her cause. East would win the first spade, cash the winning diamond, then return a club. The other spade honor would then be the entry for the set-up clubs.


So South had to assume that both the ace and king of spades sat with one defender. But which? If West, then a spade toward dummy would suffice. However, West was already marked with the diamond ace and club king and would not have passed if holding the top spades.


Deciding to play East for both spade honors, Mortensen cashed the hearts and the club ace, stripping East of exit cards, then led a spade to dummy’s jack. East won and could cash the diamond nine and spade ace, but then had to give dummy the game-going trick with the spade queen.

ANSWER: You would not have committed your hand beyond two hearts without the opponents’ pre-emption, but as it is, you cannot afford to sell out. It is a good general rule with a fit to allow yourself to be pushed up one level but not two. So bid three hearts and tip your hat to the opponents if they have jockeyed you into trouble.


South Holds:

Q J 4
Q 6 3
J 8 3 2
A 8 3


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