Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
1 NT Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass
4 Pass 4 NT Pass
5♣* Pass 6 All Pass
*Zero or three aces

Opening Lead: King

“We stumble and we do not understand.

You only saw your future bigly planned.”

— Charles Sorley

In today’s bidding sequence, North showed the majors and game-forcing values. If South wanted to play in spades, he would have raised that suit to the appropriate level, so his bid of four diamonds was an advance cue-bid, showing a diamond control and good heart support in a nonminimum hand. He cannot have the club ace or he would have cue-bid that first. Now North can take control by asking for key cards, then bidding the heart slam.


(Incidentally, though it may be obvious, the four-diamond bid cannot be natural once South has opened one no-trump; diamonds are no longer a possible trump suit.)


In the play West leads a top club to dummy’s ace, and declarer draws two rounds of trump with the king and ace. If trumps had split, declarer would have drawn them all, then hope to guess spades for the overtrick. But once the 4-1 trump break comes to light, declarer needs to pause before taking out all the trumps. Otherwise, if he loses a spade trick, the club suit will be ready to run against him.


Instead, declarer cashes the spade ace and leads a spade to the jack. While declarer is sure to lose this trick, the maneuver guarantees the contract against any lie of the cards. Whether this loses to the queen or East ruffs in, declarer will be able to win the diamond return with the ace, ruff a club, and draw trumps by overtaking the jack if necessary, then run the spades.

ANSWER: Your side may or may not have more than half the deck, but you surely have no decent trump fit, and the cards appear to be splitting badly. It would be supreme optimism to double now (you do not actually have a sure winner in your hand). Pass and hope to beat it.


South Holds:

Q 7 5
K 7 3 2
K Q J 5 2


South West North East
  1 1 Pass
1 NT 2 Pass 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


Bobby WolffJune 23rd, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Another error slipped through, wherein NS’s transfer style caused 6 hearts to be played from the dangerous side, North, rather than, according to the actual bidding, South.

Were that only the option at the real bridge table and we could foresee the danger, what happier players we would be (at least, some of them). Let’s pretend that none of the players realized what happened and West led out of turn the club King, which was accepted by NS.