Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: None


A K Q 6

8 7 6

K Q 7 6 2



10 5 4

K 9 4 2

9 3

Q 9 7 3


8 3 2

Q 10

J 8 5 4

10 8 6 5


J 9 7

A J 5 3

A 10

A K 4 2


South West North East
1 NT Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass
4 NT* Pass 6 NT All Pass

Opening Lead: 4

“A knowledgeable fool is a greater fool than an ignorant fool.”

— Moliere

At the 2006 Invitational Lederer Memorial Trophy in London — the 60th — which was covered on Bridge Base Online, nearly half the field had their mind on lofty targets.

There were eight tables in play, and the contract at three of them was a mundane three no-trump, but five pairs drove to slam, two of them ending in six diamonds and the other three reaching six no-trump.

Before you read any further, cover up the East and West hands and decide how you would have played the no-trump slam.

Regardless of which slam is attempted, everything hinges on the diamond suit providing five tricks. There will always be a heart loser. One of dummy’s hearts can depart on the second club, but there is no parking place for the other.

If the diamond 10 had been in the long diamond hand, then it would have been right to play diamonds from the top. It is just over even money that the jack will drop in either two rounds or three, whereas the straight finesse is a 50-50 shot.

But the odds change dramatically when the 10 is doubleton, accompanied by a higher honor, as in South’s hand. A 3-3 break is only fractionally better than a one-third chance, whereas the finesse is 50 percent. Unsurprisingly, considering the quality of the eight teams that were invited to take part in the Lederer, almost every declarer did indeed finesse the diamond 10 and brought home the slam.


South Holds:

A K Q 6
8 7 6
K Q 7 6 2


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 4 Pass
ANSWER: In all sequences where a simple raise of your suit would be forcing, a jump in a new suit of this sort should conventionally be played as a splinter. That means your partner suggests a spade fit, slam interest, and short hearts, a development that improves your hand no end. Today, simplest is best. Bid Blackwood and head for the stars.


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


John CatchAugust 24th, 2010 at 10:09 am


the diamond finesse can be 50% but bringing in 5 tricks with it is only about 42%. Still much better than cashing the diamonds from the top but the difference is only half of what you suggested.

DarinTAugust 24th, 2010 at 12:38 pm

What John said is true, but at 6NT you may be able to give yourself a small extra chance by winning the opening lead in your hand a playing a small heart. If whoever wins this does not return a heart, you may catch East in a red suit squeeze holding both heart honors and Jxxxx of diamonds. Alternatively, West holding the King or Queen of hearts doubleton (with the four or two) may make a mistake and win the trick, giving you a tenace position in hearts. Since you are planning to lose a heart anyways it doesn’t look like you lose anything by trying this.

Bobby WolffAugust 24th, 2010 at 5:29 pm

To John and DarinT,

John you are, of course, right in your percentage assessment but also DarinT’s suggestion of taking an early opportunity to increase his chances later, just in case the Jack of diamonds is on the declarer’s right but with more guards than declarer would like. The person writing the report of this hand for the tournament was pleased that all the declarer’s opted to take the percentage finesse rather than play for the drop.

Thanks to both of you for your inputs.