Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: None

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


South West North East
1 NT Pass 2 3
Pass Pass Dbl. Pass
4 Pass 4 Pass
5 Pass 5 NT* Pass
6 Pass 6 NT All Pass
*Pick a slam

Opening Lead: 3

“The full truth of this odd matter is what the world has long been looking for, and public curiosity is sure to welcome.”

— Robert Louis Stevenson

Matchpoints and bridge often seem to have only passing resemblances to each other, but here North’s decision to play the slam in no-trump as opposed to hearts was based on the idea that South might be able to come to 12 tricks without bringing the hearts in.


In fact, after a spade lead, declarer had decent chances. With spades 7-1, the best and obvious chance was to set up the hearts without allowing East in to run his spades. South was unwilling to put all his eggs in one basket, so he decided to try to find out a little about East’s side-suit pattern.


He won the spade lead in dummy, cashed the A-Q of diamonds, then came to hand with a high club as East pitched a spade. Now the king and jack of diamonds, with hearts pitched from dummy, gave South a complete count of the hand. East had only three minor-suit cards and seven spades, thus three hearts. When the last three clubs were cashed, South pitching a heart from hand, what four cards was East to come down to? If he kept fewer than three hearts, the suit would run for declarer, so he could retain only one spade. Now declarer led dummy’s second spade, setting up the remaining spade in hand for the 12th trick.


If East had turned up with length in diamonds and clubs, declarer would have gone after hearts, cashing the ace and leading up to dummy’s nine, a line that would succeed unless West had a four-card suit including all the top honors.

ANSWER: These days many play inverted minors. This means that a response of two diamonds here would show at least a limit raise and be forcing as far as two no-trump or three diamonds. This allows for exploration at a more convenient level. (The corollary is that a jump to three diamonds here would be pre-emptive.) Lacking that tool, maybe your best bet is to invent a two-club response.


South Holds:

7 5 2
A 8 3
K J 9 4
A K 5


South West North East
    1 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

1 Comment

Anthony MoonAugust 2nd, 2010 at 8:17 am

This deal is a real beauty. The delicate to and fro to decide what to do is very instructive.