Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: E/W


J 7 3

A J 9 8 6 4 3 2




9 8 2

7 5

Q 10 8 4

A 10 9 2



Q 10

K J 9 5 3

K J 6 5 3


A K Q 10 5 4


A 6 2

Q 8 7


South West North East
    3 Pass
3 Pass 4* Pass
6 All Pass    
*Cuebid agreeing spades

Opening Lead: A

“No! The two kinds of people on earth that I mean

Are the people who lift and the people who lean.”

— Ella Wheeler Wilcox

This was my favorite deal from the Birmingham Nationals, when New York expert Mel Colchamiro cornered me on my way to the elevator and gave me a beautiful hand. Beware: It’s far harder than it looks, even though it is far from complicated.

Without going into too many details of the auction — we would not want to embarrass any guilty parties — consider the play in six spades. Best defense is obviously to lead two rounds of clubs, but your generous opponent plays a top club and shifts to diamonds. Obviously he believes you might have bid a slam off two aces. It is up to you to punish him for such an insult.

The natural thing to do is to cash the spade ace and the heart king. Then you lead the spade 10 from hand. If West discards, you need the heart queen to fall. If West follows, you must guess immediately whether trumps are splitting or hearts behave. That looks pretty good, but it is far from best.

The winning line is to overtake the heart king with the ace at trick two and ruff a heart high. If that suit splits or if the heart queen is bare, you have no problem in drawing trumps, ending in dummy. If hearts do not behave, you need 2-2 spades — it’s as simple as that. On this occasion hearts split and spades do not, so if you play spades first, you had better guess very well!


South Holds:

9 8 2
7 5
Q 10 8 4
A 10 9 2


South West North East
  1 Pass 2
Pass Pass Dbl. Pass
ANSWER: Today’s deal encapsulates an important idea. When both members of a partnership pass at their first turn, their subsequent objective is always assumed to be to find the best partscore, not to look for game. Accordingly, a response by you here of two no-trump will NOT be natural and to play. It suggests a two-suiter (presumably the minors) and asks partner to bid his first playable spot.


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

1 Comment

jim2November 8th, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Maybe West was neither generous nor insulting. After all, he could see his doubleton heart. If he plays a second club, won’t declarer always ruff three of his losers and pitch the fourth on the heart ace, then return to hand with a high ruff to draw trump and claim?

(Take the tap, KH, ruff last club, AH pitching D, AD, D ruff, ruff heart high, draw trump and claim.)

The above requires hearts to be 2-2, while trying to run the hearts would require both majors to be 2-2, so declarer would be forced to choose the ruffing line, which West knows would work.

West’s actual second lead prevents that line by knocking out the diamond ace prematurely.