Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Dealer: North

Vul: E-W


A 7 4

Q J 3

A K 8 5

A 7 4



K 9 8 4

Q 4 3

Q J 9 5 3


10 6 5 3


J 10 9 7 6

8 6 2


K Q J 9 8

A 7 6 5 2


K 10


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

Opening Lead: Queen

“Dreamer of dreams, born out of my due time,

Why should I strive to set the crooked straight?”

— William Morris

Today’s deal is a particularly hard one because to succeed in your slam, you have to abandon the most straightforward route to 12 tricks and rely on your card-reading skills. So fasten your seatbelts!

 You play six spades on the lead of the club queen and win in hand. Your plan would be to draw trumps and lead up to the heart Q-J as many times as necessary, but when trumps split 4-1 with West having a singleton, the red flags for danger are clearly visible.


You draw four rounds of trumps ending in hand (West discarding two small clubs and a diamond, while dummy pitches a diamond), then lead a heart to the queen. The sight of East’s 10 is a second danger signal. The simple line would be to continue playing on hearts, but if you believe East to have started with a singleton heart, you can see this line will fail.


To succeed, you must play the diamond ace and king and ruff a diamond back to hand. In the four-card ending, West must discard from his remaining three hearts and the J-9 of clubs. If he discards the club jack, you cash your club 10 and lead a low heart to the jack. If he discards a heart, you simply duck a heart, and your hand is high. And if he pitches his club nine, you lead your club 10 and duck West’s jack! That player must lead a heart to dummy, and you have the rest.


South Holds:

K 9 8 4
Q 4 3
Q J 9 5 3


South West North East
1 Pass
1 Pass 1 Pass
3 Pass 3 Pass
ANSWER: Your partner has shown real extras and suggested length in diamonds and therefore a singleton heart. With a minimum hand, and what appears to be a wasted heart king, apply the brakes with a call of four clubs, suggesting nothing to spare. This sequence is nonforcing — but of course your partner can bid on with as yet unshown extras.


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 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


John Howard GibsonFebruary 13th, 2011 at 12:26 am

HBJ : There may be one other possibility that requires a small but careless error by a disinterested East. Take the club in hand with the king, over to the spade Ace and run the heart Queen, picking up the 10 and King. No doubt West will be more tempted to play the heart 9 at trick 4. This must be taken by the jack in dummy. Then comes 2D and 4S leaving a 3 card ending with declarer on lead. Providing East has parted with a seemingly insignificant club, then West is squeezed at trick 10, unable to keep his 2 hearts and two clubs.

David WarheitFebruary 13th, 2011 at 2:03 am

John: You forget that East will ruff the second heart, nor can you draw trumps ending in dummy before leading the heart queen.

John Howard GibsonFebruary 13th, 2011 at 10:37 am

David : Oops you’re right. Silly me. Best go back to the drawing board. Obviously need some extra sleep. Tx.

bobbywolffFebruary 13th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Hi HBJ and David,

Thanks for the worthwhile banter concerning a really tough declarer’s play problem while trying to make 6 spades not 6NT.

Most bridge authorities and therefore bridge writers sing out in favor of, if at all possible, playing a hand in the partnership’s best suit rather than no trump. Since the magic of trumps usually produces extra tricks, at least one more, by after extracting them from the lethal opponents, being able to trump (sometimes with a lowly deuce) higher cards of the opponents.

However, this special hand would be benefited by playing a contract of 6NT rather than 6 spades. Holding a double stopper in both minors enables declarer to win the club lead in hand and lead a low heart without fear of what would happen in a suit contract, e.g., the opponents ruthlessly ruffing the 2nd heart. It then would be a simple matter while playing 6NT to return to hand with a spade to again lead a heart, thereby scoring up the elusive slam.

What might it take for NS to be able to realistically decide to play this slam in NT? Probably either divine inspiration or from a more practical standpoint, a copy of the hand record in advance.

And to think HBJ, and also David, without your involvements, we would never see, much less appreciate, this relatively heretofore, unknown reason for selecting NT as our final destination.

Is bridge a great game or what?