Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 7th, 2011

Vulnerable: Both

Dealer: South


A K 5 3 2


6 3 2

7 5 4


J 9 7 2

Q 9 8 5

Q 10 8 3 2


Q 9 8

A 10 6 4 3

J 10 7

J 9


J 10 7 6 4

8 5

A K 4

A K 6


South West North East
1 Pass 2 NT* Pass
3 NT Pass 4 All pass

*Game-forcing spade raise

Opening Lead: Club three

“The serpent, subtlest beast of all the field.”

— John Milton

Sometimes imagination is called for when your contract seem hopeless. Some positions are difficult unless you have seen them before, so maybe reading about this one will help you make an apparently impossible hand in the future.

Cover up the East and West hands before reading on.

You, South, reach four spades after electing to open one spade (a strong no-trump is a viable alternative despite the small doubleton heart). You don’t expect to have any problems making your game,since your partner responded two no-trump to your opening spade bid, showing a game-forcing hand with primary spade support.

West leads a club, which you win in hand. However, when you play a spade toward dummy, West shows out, discarding the club two. It now looks as if you are going to lose one trick in each suit. Can you think of any way to avoid this?

Would you be surprised if I told you that, assuming clubs to be 5-2 (which West’s discard has strongly suggested), all you need is for East to hold the heart ace?

Win the spade ace and duck a diamond, the idea being to cut the defenders’ communications. Say East wins and plays another club, which is as good a defense as any. You win and play a heart. East wins and continues with, say, another heart. You win, cash your red-suit winners, and play ace and another spade. East must win and give you a ruff and discard.


South holds:

A K 5 3 2
6 3 2
7 5 4


South West North East
1 1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
ANSWER: Your partner has strongly suggested at least six hearts, and thus a hand better than a weak-jump overcall. Imagine he has six hearts to the ace, the king-queen-third of clubs, and two doubletons: only a nine-count! You are still heavily favored to make game, since any minor-suit finesses rates to succeed. Accordingly, up and bid four hearts.


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


Steven BloomMay 20th, 2011 at 11:25 am

I agree with the play, but not the order. After knocking out the heart ace, declarer should take the second spade, then the heart, and finally the diamonds, in case East held 2-2 in the minors.

bobbywolffMay 20th, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Hi Steven,

Yes, as Nathan Detroit, the ultimate gambler, of “Guys and Dolls” fame may have said, “If someone unknown comes up to you and suggests a better, or at the very least, a more careful way, to play a problem bridge hand, you better believe him, especially if his name is Steven Bloom”.

Thanks for the improvement and for taking the time to let all column readers feel the depth of our great pastime.