Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Vulnerable: Both

Dealer: North


A 9

K 9 7 2

K J 6

A K 5 4


10 8 5

A Q 3

Q 10 8 5 4

J 2


6 3 2

10 8 6 5 4

7 3

Q 8 6


K Q J 7 4


A 9 2

10 9 7 3


South West North East
2 NT Pass
6 All pass

Opening Lead: Heart ace

“We are not downhearted. The only trouble is, we cannot understand what is happening to our neighbors.”

— Joseph Chamberlain

In today’s deal from the Junior Europeans held last year, no slam is exactly tempting. When Israel played Poland, the Israelis did not consider slam. They stopped safely in three no-trump and took 11 tricks. By contrast, the Polish pair had an accident after North’s one-club opening and propelled themselves into six clubs. The club slam was almost hopeless; the best chance was to play either defender for the doubleton Q-J of clubs or to play East for the doubleton club eight. Neither line succeeded.

But how about the contract of six spades, which might be easy enough to reach, assuming North lies about his high cards and treats his 19-count to be worth an opening bid of two no-trump?

Remarkably, the defense needs to lead clubs twice to defeat that slam. On the lead of the heart ace or a passive trump lead, for example, declarer can take both red-suit finesses and play off four trumps, three diamonds, two hearts and one club. He will finish in dummy, having reached a three-card ending where North is left with one top club and two small hearts, while declarer holds a trump and two small clubs.

East will have been forced to come down to only one card in either hearts or clubs. If it is clubs, declarer must take North’s top club and ruff a heart back to hand to cash a club at trick 13. If hearts, declarer ruffs a heart and crosses to dummy’s top club to cash the last heart.


South holds:

A 9
K 9 7 2
K J 6
A K 5 4


South West North East
1 1 Pass Pass
ANSWER: When the opponents overcall and your partner passes, you can now describe a balanced 18-19 by rebidding one no-trump. With 12-14 balanced you would have passed, and with 15-17 you would have opened one no-trump. So there is no other balanced range that this sequence could show.


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</span


NickMay 16th, 2011 at 8:48 pm

As you know, my deal will say; which might take 4-5 months.

This deal will appear whenever it can be successfully published.

Vulnerable: Both

Dealer: South North

S 9 8 4


D Q 8

C A K 9 7 6 5 2

West East

S A 5 3 S 7 2

H J 7 6 5 2 H 10 9 4 3

D K 10 7 5 D 6 4 2

C 4 C Q J 10 3


S K Q J 10 6

H A K 8

D A J 9 3

C 8

The bidding:

South West North East

1 S Pass 1 NT Pass

3 D Pass 3 S Pass

4 H Pass 5 S Pass

6 S All pass

Opening lead: Club four

This deal will be published only on the top section. You will create the opening lead/bidding section on the bottom, and therefore you will create the information to the left corner. This must be published and authorized! You notify me when this deal will be submitted into your column. Wouldn’t you think this contract might be impossible? I’ll reply again when you give a comment.

bobbywolffMay 17th, 2011 at 11:32 am

Hi Nick,

It seems this contract is impossible to make against best defense.

Either 1. win the club, ruff a small club high, heart to the queen, ruff small club high, king of spades, duck, queen of spades duck, ace of hearts (throwing a diamond), Ace of diamonds, ruff a diamond, down one or 2. win the club, ruff a club high, king of spades, duck, queen of spades, duck, heart to the queen, ruff a club high, ace of hearts, throwing a diamond, ace of diamonds, ruff a diamond, good club throwing a diamond, West ruffs with his ace and down I go, left with a losing diamond.

Neither of the above lines for declarer work, so I’ll assume the hand cannot be made against the best defense which of course is West throwing one diamond away and keeping at least one more heart than has South to keep declarer (South) from stripping his hearts and endplaying him by throwing him in with his ace of spades to lead a diamond.

Tell me, Nick, if I have missed something which would allow me to make this blankety blank hand.

However, as great a teaching hand as this might theoretically be, because of its complexity, not to mention tediousness, it probably would not fit a daily bridge column, but rather like about 70+ years ago would better fit a major magazine like Life, Look or Cosmopolitan, when bridge was so very popular and with many people aspiring to learn the secrets necessary to play it well.

BTW, I do not like the modern style 2 over 1 when the responder bids 1NT since he doesn’t think he has enough to force to game with a 2 club response. On your bidding sequence, his 5 spade bid is seemingly directed to asking about 2nd round club control which is the opposite of what his hand demands. How about?:

South North

1 Spade 2 Clubs

2 Diamonds 2 Spades

3 Hearts 4 Clubs

4 NT 5 Diamonds

6 Spades Pass

Tell me where I went wrong, if I have.

bobbywolffMay 17th, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Hi again Nick,

There seems much frustrating play on your hand concerning making use of the nine of spades entry to dummy, but I am kept reminded of, that West can always control me to not being able to reach dummy with that entry. Also the diamond spots with the master 4th round being with West instead of being able to be smothered by declarer also is a consideration. As is usually the norm in the case of involving a double dummy bridge problem, (where the problem solver is able to play with knowledge of all four hands) the frustration only grows, especially when satisfaction is so elusive.

Simply put, at least for me, the pain involved is not worth the gain, although no doubt, to some with keen bridge minds, it is ecstasy itself.

However, it is always wonderful practice to sometimes just go to work to try to defeat the significant challenge.

NickMay 17th, 2011 at 8:09 pm

This contract is impossible. I will accept your bidding, so change it to that.

These adjustments should be made:

North is void hearts.

Is this contract still impossible?

What opening lead would you suggest? If it is the club four, leave it this way, and if it should be something else, just do it that way. I will give another reply after you answer this question.

bobbywolffMay 19th, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Hi Nick,

You eliminate the singleton Q of hearts from the dummy and you have not stated what card is taking its place.

Obviously the queen of hearts is integral to having any chance of scoring a small slam, so unless you exchange it for the ace of spades or the king of diamonds we will be wasting even more time.

In order for us to use any hand, it needs to either be a real life tournament hand with an instructional point on either the bidding, play or defense or a hand with a theme which can be explained and understood by at least a large percentage of our readers.

When neither you nor I can find a way to make a contract it is a long way from fitting our necessary requirements.

I do appreciate your writing and perhaps sometime in the future you will have a hand which can be easily explained.