Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 8th, 2011

Vulnerable: Both

Dealer: South


8 7 3

4 2

A K J 8 4

J 9 5


Q J 9 6

J 6


A K 8 6 3 2



K 10 9 7 3

9 7 5 2

Q 7 4


A K 5 4 2

A Q 8 5

Q 6 3



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

Opening Lead: Club king

“Martin, if dirt were trumps, what hands you would hold!”

— Charles Lamb

In the duplicate game at the Cavendish Club in Manhattan, the following hand produced much discussion. The computer analysis showed that four spades can be made — but the play is especially entertaining.

After West leads two rounds of clubs, declarer can succeed by ruffing, drawing precisely one round of trumps, then crossing to dummy with a diamond and playing on hearts. But imagine declarer takes the more normal line of playing both top trumps as East discards a discouraging heart.

Now declarer plays the diamond queen and a second diamond. If West ruffs in, the defense is over. If he takes his last trump and then plays a third club, declarer can ruff, run the diamonds, and take a heart finesse. If West plays back a club immediately, declarer can ruff and lead his third diamond to bring about the same ending.

But there is a defense. West must discard, let’s say a heart, on the second diamond. Declarer now takes the heart finesse and cashes the heart ace. If West ruffs in, he can only collect his trump tricks.

So West discards a second time, and South tempts him again by leading a low heart, and West must discard a third time. Declarer ruffs his heart loser in dummy, but when he exits with a top diamond, West can ruff in, cash his spade queen, and lead a club. South ruffs, but must concede trick 13 to East’s heart king.


South holds:

A K 5 4 2
A Q 8 5
Q 6 3


South West North East
ANSWER: It is not clear that there is a right answer. Both double and an overcall of one spade are sensible, and both might work. But be aware that this hand, while close to a maximum for a one-spade overcall, is certainly not outside the range for the call. Bid one spade, expecting to be able to bid hearts or double for takeout at your next turn to show 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


NickMay 21st, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Hi Bobby,

please review the deal from October 11, the deal, and September 21, the same deal. I am meaning where it says October 11 and 25 and September 21 and October 5. So please change the cards that appeared in the newspaper for October 11, 2010.

bobbywolffMay 21st, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Hi Nick,

I do not want to appear argumentative, or worse, not willing to correct mistakes, but I, from where I live, do not keep records of past hands, especially ones that were printed months ago.

I’ll attempt to do some investigating and find out what happened on those dates, but obviously this is the first I’ve heard about duplication or whatever might have happened.

As you know, there is room for error when the writer, prime proof reader, syndicate approver for dangerous and/or libelous dialogue, and then the individual bridge editor at the various client newspapers (almost always someone who does not know how to play bridge) have and exert control

over inserting the column (one of probably up to 3 months worth, 90, in his hands) into its spot.

When it leaves my control, at least as far as I know, it is not duplicated or anything other than a real life tournament

hand, a teaching hand, or one which tends to show the general majesty of the game itself.

Please forgive my mistakes, but I, after 41 years of doing this (1970 and 29 years under my byline), do not know of a more adept way to get it done as correctly as is possible.