Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dealer: East

Vul: None


J 8 5 3

A K 6

J 6

Q 10 7 2



Q J 10 9 7 5 4

10 9

A 6 5


Q 10 2

8 2

5 2

K J 9 8 4 3


A 9 7 6 4


A K Q 8 7 4 3


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

Opening Lead: Q

“Not with a Club, the Heart is broken

Nor with a Stone —

A whip so small you could not see it.”

— Emily Dickinson

“Cover an honor with an honor” is an oft-quoted but sometimes inappropriate mantra. Today’s deal from a tournament shows just one example of when the saying is not only misleading, but downright wrong.

I was an innocent spectator at one table where, after South made an aggressive but entirely reasonable jump to six diamonds, West led the heart queen to dummy’s king. Declarer then drew trumps and played ace and another spade. With spades breaking 3-1, the slam went down.

The score sheet showed that only one declarer had brought the contract home. Here’s how. After the same lead, declarer next played the diamond ace and a diamond to the jack. When both opponents followed, declarer appreciated from the bidding that West could hold no more than two spades. Seven hearts for his pre-empt, coupled with his partner’s failure to open a club preempt marked him with at least two clubs. (If he held a singleton, East would have had eight and would surely have bid.)

So the play of a spade to the ace, hoping for a singleton honor with East, then a spade toward the jack, which would hold the losers in the suit to one if West had started with three cards to an honor, was destined to fail.

The correct continuation at trick four is the spade jack, playing East for K-Q-2 and West for the bare 10. It also has the psychological advantage that East might instinctively cover the jack with the queen or king from a three-card holding — which was exactly what happened.


South Holds:

J 8 5 3
A K 6
J 6
Q 10 7 2


South West North East
Pass Pass Dbl. Pass
ANSWER: Playing for penalties looks too dangerous. So the choice is to cue-bid two clubs, to jump in spades, or to bid no-trump. My instincts are to respond one no-trump, which, by a passed hand in this auction, should show 10-13 or so. My honor location is such that spades does not look a great spot to play in unless partner has extra shape, in which case he will surely bid again.


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