Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, May 3rd, 2011

Vulnerable: Neither

Dealer: South


8 7 6

A 10 8


A K Q J 3 2


K Q 5

5 3 2

A Q J 10 9 7



10 9 4 3 2


K 4

9 7 6 5 4



K Q J 9 7 4

6 5 3 2



South West North East
1 2 4 Pass
4 Pass 5 Pass
5 Pass 6 All pass

Opening Lead: Spade king

“Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.”

— Benjamin Franklin

We all know a few more-than-senior citizens who love to play bridge. But few couples have grown old as gracefully as Sidney and Lillian Matthews. A few years ago Sidney celebrated his 100th birthday in Marbella. At that dinner Sidney, still an enthusiastic golfer, announced his retirement as a bridge tournament director, but gave no indication he was ready to stop playing for the foreseeable future.

Matthews had recently played this hand in a duplicate pairs, which he was also directing. West led the spade king against six hearts. Matthews won with his ace, then led two rounds of trump to discover that the overcaller had started with three.

Having escaped a diamond lead, declarer appreciated that as long as clubs broke no worse than 4-2, he could discard his five losers in hand on dummy’s clubs. But Sidney thought that he should secure his slam against a 5-1 break, even at the expense of an overtrick. How right he was, for after cashing the club ace, then ruffing a club high in hand, he saw West discard a diamond.

A heart to dummy drew the last trump, and Sidney was home in a slam that few pairs had bid, and even fewer had brought home. The logic behind the successful line is that if making your contract will secure you a good score, the merits of playing for an overtrick are strictly limited.


South holds:

J 4 2
Q 8 5
Q 10 6 3
J 8 4


South West North East
1 Dbl.
Pass 1 Pass 2
All pass
ANSWER: Declarer has shown eight playing tricks in spades, and dummy will be very weak, so ask yourself which lead is least likely to give away a trick or take a finesse for declarer he could not take himself. Partner will probably have a balanced 12-14 points, and on that basis a trump rates to be least likely to cost a trick. A club is a VERY close second, though.


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