Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 14, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: All

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


South West North East
    1 2
3 3 4 Pass
4 NT 5 Pass* Pass
6 All Pass    
*One ace or three

Opening Lead: Queen

“Hope, whose weak Being ruined is,

Alike if it succeed, and if it miss;

Whom Good or Ill does equally confound,

And both the Horns of Fates Dilemma wound.”

— Abraham Cowley

When the holdings in two suits look more or less equal, a closer inspection can reveal that one of them offers a slight extra chance. Take a look at this six-heart deal, which occurred in a national knockout event.


West’s simple three-spade raise did nothing to hinder North-South. It merely suggested to both players that the other was unlikely to have too much in spades, while it took away none of their bidding space. No doubt West’s subsequent five spades was in to find out if North-South could work out how many aces they had. As it was, North’s pass showed an odd number (there are all sorts of methods one can play here, the only important thing being to know what your partner does) and the fair slam was reached.


When West led the spade queen, declarer won and drew trumps in two rounds. The bidding had indicated that there was very little chance of one defender being long in both majors, so declarer had to make an immediate decision. He could make his slam if either minor suit broke evenly, but he had to guess which one to play on. In diamonds a 3-3 break offered one chance, but in clubs there was a significant extra chance: If the suit was not 3-3, East might have a doubleton honor, or, as here, West might have a doubleton Q-9 or J-9. Today the right choice made the difference between success and failure.

ANSWER: It seems reasonable to attack spades, your best source of tricks, and a low spade lead looks normal enough. I know geniuses who would lead the spade queen because that is very unlikely to cost a trick and might leave them on lead to continue spades or to shift to clubs through dummy. But I leave such plays to others!


South Holds:

Q 10 8 4
10 6 4
5 4 2
9 8 5


South West North East
  1 Dbl. 1
Pass 2 Pass 2
All 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