Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: N/S


9 8 4 3

K 8

K Q 5

K 7 5 2


Q 5

Q 10 7 6 4

J 9 4 3

J 8


10 7 6 2

A 5 2

A 10 7 6

10 9



J 9 3

8 2

A Q 6 4 3


South West North East
1 NT Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead: 6

“A ROMAN Master stands on Grecian ground,

And to the people at the Isthmian Games …


— William Wordsworth

As a commentator at world championships, I was constantly amazed by the skill of Lorenzo Lauria. His play in today’s deal was most impressive.

In three no-trump on repeated heart leads (suggesting West had started with five), you win the second and plan to cash as many clubs as you can before deciding whether to set up a diamond for your ninth trick, or to fall back on the spade finesse.

On your third club winner, West discards an encouraging diamond three, while East lets go the diamond six. You lead a spade to the king, then cross back to the club seven, on which both opponents again let go of small diamonds.

I just had time to say, “I’ve seen this sort of position for 50 years and no one has ever successfully dropped a doubleton queen offside” when Lauria did find the play!

Lauria had decided that the diamond discards suggested West had begun life with either a small doubleton spade or the doubleton queen. If so, why had East not pitched a spade? After all, he knew he could afford one.

Lauria had reasoned as follows: “East thinks if he lets go a small spade, it might persuade me to play for the drop. Since East wants me to think he is keeping spades because he has something, he really has nothing in the suit. If he had started life with queen-fourth of spades, he would have pitched one to make me play for the drop.”


South Holds:

9 8 4 3
K 8
K Q 5
K 7 5 2


South West North East
Pass 1 2 Pass
ANSWER: If your partner has come into the auction with a relatively poor suit, he rates to have either extra length or extra high-cards. Either way, bidding three no-trump now seems the practical option. If nothing else, it should teach your partner that two-level overcalls are not to be taken lightly.


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