Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Vulnerable: Neither

Dealer: South


9 5 3 2

K 6 5 4

A K 9 7 6


Q J 10

8 2

Q 10 5

A Q J 4 2



Q J 9 7

J 8 4 3

K 9 7 5


A K 8 7 4

A 10 3


10 8 6 3


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 4 Pass
4 Pass 6 All pass

Opening Lead: Spade queen

“That fellow seems to me to possess but one idea, and that is a wrong one.”

— Samuel Johnson

Today’s Gold Coast deal saw both North and South doing a great deal of bidding. In response to the splinter-jump to four clubs, South felt that his controls required him to make one slam-try below game, while North decided that his fourth trump and void must give 12 tricks some play. Thus an exceedingly delicate spade slam was reached. What is the best plan after a trump lead?

Best is to win the trump lead and crossruff, planning to ruff three clubs in dummy while cashing the diamond ace, then ruffing two diamonds in hand. After setting up the diamonds, declarer reaches a six-card ending with the lead in dummy.

Correct technique at this point (particularly because you believe from the opening lead that trumps rate to be 3-1) is to leave two trumps outstanding and to cash the diamond king, pitching your last club loser.

After West ruffs in, South can regain the lead whatever he does, draws the last trump, then crosses to dummy with the heart king to pitch his losing heart on dummy’s fifth diamond.

Declarer will go down only if West started with precisely 2-4-4-3 shape; in that case East would ruff the fourth diamond and lead a club for the trump promotion. This line survives against all other 4-3 diamond breaks, whether or not trumps break.

After the slam made, it was either humorous or disconcerting for South to discover that his teammates had conceded 12 tricks as well — but they were defending three spades.


South holds:

Q J 9 7
J 8 4 3
K 9 7 5


South West North East
1 1
Dbl. Pass 2 Pass
ANSWER: It may look tempting to raise to three clubs now, but that should be a real game-try, not a pre-emptive attempt to keep the opponents out. If West competes to two spades, you can always reraise clubs later. But the opponents’ silence suggests partner may well have four spades. So I’d pass and await developments.


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


jim2May 6th, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I am a bit confused on the bidding quiz.

The negative double “promised” support for the unbid major and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the unbid minor. I agree with that bid, as it was the best way to get hearts into play. It did, however, also suggest an absence of support for partner’s opening bid suit.

With partner’s rebid showing a real diamond suit, why is the answer focus on raising partner’s second suit instead of revealing support for partner’s first suit?

bobbywolffMay 6th, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Hi Jim2,

You are right of course, and the following might be the only excuse for not doing so. By passing it might deprive the opponents of an extra round of bidding which could enable an opponent with a borderline supporting hand to conjure up a raise to 2 spades.

However what is partner supposed to respond holding:





Two clubs rather than the stopperless 1NT could be an enlightened response by partner.

Thanks for overseeing our errors, this one completely unnecessary, although passing could get the best result.

jim2May 6th, 2011 at 4:34 pm

I honestly do not know if there was an error, Mr. Wolff.

I should have been more clear in my first comment.

There are good arguments to pass – I completely agree. (It would probably be my choice at the table.)

There are also good reasons to bid 3C – I agree with that, also.

Bidding diamonds presents some problems. 2D sounds like no club fit and makes life easier for E-W. 3D, on the other hand, may be too much of an overbid. The drawback that the bidding box does not contain the card “2.5 D” may be a fine and sufficient reason not to make a diamond call, thus making the choice pass or 3C.

My first comment was intended only to solicit discussion on the relative virtues of diamond raises, especially in comparison with pass and 3C.

bobbywolffMay 6th, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Hi Jim2,

My value judgment, on this hand, does not really cotton to a raise in either minor. Partner, by only bidding 2 clubs, has rather pointedly denied even as much as an intermediate hand, and by my heart holding being the QJ instead of the king further weakens my trick taking potential.






I would jump to 3 clubs as a response to the double showing a minimum intermediate hand and then if the King of diamonds was substituted for the queen I would also bid 3 clubs, but anything more and I would cue bid spades before then mentioning clubs.

Obviously, at least for me, responding to negative doubles includes a slightly different evaluation method, which, in turn, is designed to mesh with partners responsibility to coordinate which hopefully is in tune.