Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Vulnerable: Neither

Dealer: South


A K J 10 6


Q 8 5 2

K 5 2



K Q J 10 6 5 2


J 7 6 3


9 4

8 7 4

K 10 9 7

Q 10 9 4


Q 8 7 5 2

9 3

A J 6 4

A 8


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

*Two of the five aces (counting the trump king as an ace), plus the trump queen

Opening Lead: Heart king

“Be wise with speed;

A fool at forty is a fool indeed.”

— Edward Young

In today’s deal most declarers, if pressed, would admit that they would be unlikely to go down in six spades unless they lost two diamond tricks. Accordingly, they should direct their efforts to catering for bad splits in that suit.

The normal way to play the slam is to take the heart king with the ace and draw trumps in two rounds. Then comes the club ace and king, a club ruff to strip off the clubs, and a heart ruff in dummy to get rid of that suit. The stage is set to play diamonds to best advantage.

At this point declarer leads a diamond to his jack. If it loses to a singleton king, West must concede defeat at once by giving a ruff-sluff. If West can play back the diamond seven, declarer inserts dummy’s eight and is protected against any lie of the cards. If West can return the 10, declarer runs this round to his ace and can finesse against West if he has the two remaining diamonds.

What if the diamond jack scores, as it would do in the diagramed layout? Declarer now must take care to lead a low diamond from hand and duck in dummy (or if feeling really greedy, cross to dummy with a trump to lead a diamond toward his ace, intending to duck unless the king appears). This line insures the contract. Either the diamonds will be split, or East will be endplayed to lead a diamond into the split tenace or give a ruff-sluff.


South holds:

Q 8 7 5 2
9 3
A J 6 4
A 8


South West North East
1 2 3 Dbl.
ANSWER: The three-heart cuebid suggests at least a limit bid and forces your side only to three spades. Without enough to accept the invitation, you have been given a chance by the double to define your hand even more precisely. Since passing in such sequences ought to show a better (and NOT a worse hand) than reverting to three spades, you should bid three spades to emphasize your dead-minimum values.


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


JaneApril 14th, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Hi Bobby,

On the bid with the aces hand, do you recommend opening this hand in first or second seat? I know the trend is to open weaker hands now, and I do open 12 pointers, but with nine of the eleven points outside of the major, and the major being less than stellar, seems like this is marginal. Why would passing the cue bid double show a better hand? I have been playing that passing shows the minimum and asks responder to bid three or go to game if their cue bid showed better than a limit raise. If the major had been hearts instead of spades, would you open this hand in first or second seat?

I realize this can be a partnership agreement situation. It also seems to me that the opps should stay quiet and not make a double of the cue bid to avoid giving the opener a chance to cheaply describe his hand. The three heart bid is not going to get passed. Would the double demand a heart lead? If not, what should the double imply?

Thanks in advance

bobbywolffApril 14th, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Hi Jane,

I will recommend opening this hand in all seats and whether or not the long suit is spades or hearts. Over the years it seems to be an undeniable advantage which passes to the first to open, if only for the preemptive value of the opening bid, compounded by the possibility of partner raising right away, establishing a fit, which is both good for your side and bad for the opponents who have to risk coming in at higher levels before their possible fits are established. Add to that the usual advantage of suggesting an opening lead, if your side becomes relegated to defense (not exactly true in this case), but on the average is usually a plus.

Whether, on the Bid with the Aces hand, and over the double of your partner’s limit raise or better your partnership plays an immediate return is weaker or stronger than a pass is entirely up to the partnership. The advantage of playing a pass could be stronger would leave more bidding room available just in case partner has a big hand with slam potential, leaving more room to rumble. Basically though, it is a tossup and should therefore be left up to the individual partnership to determine what they prefer.

The opponent’s double of the cue bid should usually be lead directing, e.g. Ax, Kx, or somesuch, but not enough playing strength to, in this specific case, raise to 4 hearts.

Your questions are good, since remembering back to the days when I played with numerous partners, we didn’t usually find the time to discuss some of these considerations, which sometimes turned out to be important.

A good partnership like a jealous mistress, demands time or else the adventure will usually fail.