Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 6, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: N/S


A K 5

J 10 9 4

J 10 3 2

10 9


9 8 2

Q 9 8 6

A Q J 8 6 5


10 7 3

7 6 5 3

7 5 4

4 3 2


Q J 6 4

A K Q 8 2


K 7


South West North East
2 3 Pass Pass
3 Pass 5 Pass
6 All Pass    

Opening Lead: 9

“Was it a vision or a waking dream?

Fled is that music: — Do I wake or sleep?”

— John Keats

South had a comfortable opening call of two clubs, and over the three-level intervention, his partner’s pass showed values. (With a really weak hand, North would have doubled three clubs.) When the auction reverted to South, he decided to bid his hearts rather than double for takeout.

Now North’s jump to five hearts asked South to bid slam with a club control. With only a second-round control and a minimum (in context), South might well have taken the low road, but the slam bonus was an irresistible lure — he let his good trumps persuade him to act.

West led a passive spade against six hearts, and South thought he could count 12 tricks. If trumps were going to behave, he had six trump tricks, two diamonds and four spades. Just in case it was not his lucky day, declarer needed to plan how to cope with a 4-0 trump break. The winning line took him a moment to find, but he spotted it eventually.

South won the spade in dummy, then led a low heart to his ace, discovering the bad trump split. He cashed both top diamonds and went to the spade king to ruff a diamond high, crossed back to the heart nine to ruff another diamond high, then went back to the heart 10 to draw the last trump, pitching a club from hand.

He could run the spades now and concede trick 13 to the club ace — a perfect dummy reversal.


South Holds:

A K 5
J 10 9 4
J 10 3 2
10 9


South West North East
  1 1 2
2 3 3 Pass
ANSWER: Despite the opponents’ energetic bidding, you should be happy that you have some extras in high cards as well as decent shape to offer partner. Although the three-heart call may be your partner’s only game-try, you should accept the offer by raising to four hearts and let partner go back to four spades if he wants to.


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


Gonzalo DíazAugust 20th, 2010 at 9:33 pm

If trumps were going to behave, he could count 6 trumps.

Well, I see only 5 trump tricks.

The 6th one comes through a dummy reversal

Elliot SternlichtAugust 20th, 2010 at 11:56 pm

Dear Mr, Wolff,

I was just reading the current Bridge World for September 2010, and I love your treatmant of 1H-1S-3NT to show 7-4 or 6-4 in the majors with solid or semisolid hearts. Could you please tell me how you play the meaning of responder’s rebids after the opener jumps to 3NT? Thank you for your assistance.

David WarheitAugust 21st, 2010 at 7:49 am

Gonzalo: If trumps behave, then south draws trump in 3 rounds, leaving one in dummy. South thus has 5 trump tricks in his hand. He now runs spades, discarding a club from dummy, loses a club and then ruffs a club in dummy for his 6th trump trick.

Bobby WolffAugust 21st, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Hi Gonzalo, Elliot and, of course, David,

David, my guess is that Gonzalo meant that in the beginning declarer thought he had, as you thoughtfully explained, 6 trump tricks, because he did not expect an unlikely 4-0 break. When the ugly break then appeared declarer abandoned his original plan and instead, executed a classic dummy reversal, producing the slam going trick. If that was, in fact, what Gonzalo meant, it is heartwarming to discuss this alternate line, since top-level declarer’s play is all about, if possible, seeing another successful line, just in case the first line becomes conflicted with poisoned flowers. And, David, thanks for your enlightened description of the dummy reversal producing the 6th trump trick.

Elliot, since 1H P 1S P 3NT has little utility for representing a normal suggestion of a 3NT final contract, it should be used for something more useful. Instead of requiring 7-4 or 6-4 hands, actually 7-3 or sometimes even 6-3 such as KQx, AKQJxx, KJx, x wherein a responder who happen to hold, J10xxxx, x, x, KJxxx or somesuch could convert to a much more playable 4 spades, but without this treatment would be stuck with trying to justify a final 4 heart contract.

Finally, Elliot, a return to 4 spades or 4 hearts would be to play, and anything else, such as a 4 of a minor bid would be a cue bid toward slam usually with spades in mind, but hearts could also be the final destination so that the responder must not return to hearts unless that is where he wants to play. Of course, 4NT by either party, usually by responder, is always Blackwood. If you are a theoretical player (sometimes nut) you may have fun devising special meanings for unusual responses like immediate jumps to the 5 level, but I am not advising you to do that, but only to suggest to you what other roosters in the chicken ranch may be thinking.

Paul BetheAugust 23rd, 2010 at 6:34 pm

@ Gonzalo,

I think it would have been better to say: “If trumps were going to behave, then declarer could draw them, pitch one of dummy’s clubs on the 4th round of spades, and then ruff a club after conceding one.”

That is what was meant by ‘6 trump tricks’, but not written out.