Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dealer: West

Vul: N/S

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


South West North East
  1 Dbl. 2
3 4 5 Dbl.
All Pass      

Opening Lead: 4

“An inconstant woman, though she has no chance to be very happy, can never be very unhappy.”

— John Gay

Today’s deal came up in a local New York bridge club. North, a professional bridge player, was so entranced with the elegance of the position that he did not even mind that his partner had missed the best line of play and had gone down. And to be fair, many experts would have missed it as well.


The play in five clubs is equally interesting on a top spade lead and the card actually chosen, the singleton heart. Declarer is faced with three top losers, and the only way he can make one of them vanish is to force West to lead something helpful. On the heart lead declarer must win dummy’s ace, draw two rounds of trumps, then play the spade ace, ruff a spade, cross back to hand with the heart king, then lead the third spade, pitching dummy’s heart as West wins the trick. That player must then concede the ruff-sluff or lead a diamond and give up a trick there.


On a top spade lead the play is even harder. Declarer must win and ruff a spade high. She cannot afford to draw trumps first; otherwise, she is in the wrong hand to achieve the elimination of the spades, so she must hope for 2-1 trumps. Only now does declarer draw trumps, take the two top hearts ending in hand, and lead the third spade to pitch the heart and achieve the same endplay.

ANSWER: Your partner has extra values and extra shape. I’m a little reluctant to commit this hand to three no-trump with only one heart stop. So, having denied four spades at my first turn, I’d settle for a simple raise to three spades, hoping partner will know better than I what to do next.


South Holds:

A 4 2
K 5 2
K 6
10 7 5 4 2


South West North East
    1 1
1 NT Pass 2 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