Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 5th, 2011

Vulnerable: East-West

Dealer: East


J 10 9 7 3

K 7 4 3


K 9 4



A J 10 9 5

K J 8 7 3

10 8


K 5 4

Q 2

A 10 5 4

Q J 5 3


A Q 8 2

8 6

Q 9 6

A 7 6 2


South West North East
1 *
1 2 4 All pass


Opening Lead: Diamond seven

“The line, often adopted by strong men in controversy, of justifying the means by the end.”

— Saint Jerome

The overcall made by Jovanka Smederevac of Austria in today’s deal might not have been strictly textbook, but it did guide her side to a very playable contract.

But once there, she needed to find an elegant play in four spades for at least two reasons. First, she had to justify her rather sporting bidding; second, she was seated opposite Maria Erhart, not the most tolerant partner of less than perfect play.

Put yourself in the South seat and consider what your secret weapon is going to be.

(Incidentally, her opponents did not look to sacrifice in five diamonds because East’s opening bid guaranteed only two diamonds, but West’s final pause before passing did not escape declarer.)

On the lead of the diamond seven to East’s ace for a spade return, Smederevac took two trump finesses. The 3-1 trump split meant that she had only six trump tricks, and thus needed both the heart ace onside and something nice from the clubs. But her gut reaction was that West had five diamonds, and thus only two clubs. Accordingly, she led a low club to the eight, nine and jack. She then won the heart return in dummy with the king, cashed the club king, and led to the club seven. When that held the trick, she had her 10th winner.

This maneuver, known as an intrafinesse, combines taking a finesse with a subsequent pin of the card against which you originally finessed — one of the most elegant trick-generating plays in the book.


South holds:

A J 10 9 5
K J 8 7 3
10 8


South West North East
1 Pass
1 1 Pass Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
ANSWER: An out-of-the blue cuebid in a sequence like this (where your partner could not bid over one spade) suggests four-card diamond support and a maximum hand — perhaps a 4-1-4-4 pattern, or one with three spades and five clubs. Your high cards look to be well-placed and you have too much extra shape to be happy bidding only three diamonds. So bid four diamonds to show your 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