Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: None


K J 4 3


10 6

K 10 7 5 4


A 10

Q 6 2

A Q 9 8 2

J 9 6


8 7 6 5 2

J 10 9 5 4

J 4 3


Q 9

8 7 3

K 7 5

A Q 8 3 2


South West North East
1 1 1 2
Pass Pass 3 Pass
3 NT Pass 5 All Pass

Opening Lead: 2

“What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.”

— Samuel Johnson

All this week’s deals come from the World Championship last year in Sao Paulo, to mark the ongoing championships in Philadelphia.

At many tables South played three no-trump, speedily down on a diamond lead. But in Russia vs. Italy, the Italian declarer brought home a diamond partscore while the Russian declarer, Yuri Khiuppenen, reached five clubs via the auction shown and received a heart lead.

The simplest way to try to set up the spades for two diamond discards would have been to lead a spade to the nine. But Khiuppenen did better. He cashed both top hearts, crossed with a club to hand to ruff out the hearts, and drew the rest of the trumps before leading a spade toward dummy,

He had worked out to play West for the doubleton spade ace (since West was marked with five diamonds and three hearts and three clubs). If West ducked his ace, he would be endplayed on the next round of spades. If he took his ace, declarer would have two discards for his diamond losers.

Incidentally, at another table, South played five clubs doubled and made a slight slip when he played a trump to his queen at once. Now the 3-0 trump break meant that to sort out the entry position, he needed to play a spade up at once. But in fact he played a second trump instead and now could no longer achieve the endplay, but was forced to lead a spade to the nine. Unlucky!


South Holds:

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


South West North East
  1 Pass Pass
ANSWER: It is correct to balance with this hand, although you would not have acted with it in second seat. Since a takeout double is clearly wrong, as you have neither major suit, the choice is the simple two-club overcall, or, my favorite, a call of one no-trump. In balancing seat the range for this call is 10-14, not 15-17; thus you get to protect your diamond king and describe your hand simultaneously.


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