Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Vulnerable: Both

Dealer: East


K 3

K 10 2

J 6 5 2

Q 10 8 6


Q 10 7

A Q J 4

Q 9 7 3

5 3


A 6 5 4 2

9 8 6 3

J 7 4 2


J 9 8

7 5

A K 10 8 4

A K 9


South West North East
1 NT Pass 3 NT All pass

Opening Lead: Diamond three

“Fortune is full of fresh variety:

Constant in nothing but inconstancy.”

— Richard Barnfield

In today’s deal from the Cavendish, the field reached three no-trump from the South seat, setting West an awkward lead problem. Two of the declarers who were lucky enough to receive a low diamond lead were Jan van Cleeff and Christian Mari. Both saw East pitch a low heart and they won the trick cheaply.

Van Cleeff went for the pressure line: he played four rounds of diamonds at once, on which East (understandably) threw three hearts and a spade. When West shifted to the heart queen, van Cleeff covered, ran his minor-suit winners, and threw East in with the fourth club to lead spades to dummy. This line required East to hold the spade ace, but by this point in the hand, declarer felt very confident that this was the case.

By contrast, Mari played a low diamond from his hand at trick two. When West won the diamond queen and shifted to the heart queen, Mari took this with the king in dummy. What do you think he did next? Logically enough, declarer led a club to the nine and had nine winners.

Mari’s play was based on the sensible assumption that East would surely have discarded a small club at trick one or trick two from an original holding of two or three small, on the grounds that without the club nine, he could not easily foresee the problem that declarer might have. Thus East’s discards marked him with the club jack.


South holds:

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


South West North East
1 Dbl. 1
1 NT Pass 2 Pass
ANSWER: There are very few positions where you can bid your opponent’s suit naturally, but this must surely be one of them. Even if East has four hearts, your partner might quite sensibly be bidding the suit with five or six cards in that suit. In any event, it is safe to raise to three hearts now and let your partner out in three no-trump if he does not agree with your interpretation.


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

1 Comment

NickMay 28th, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Hi Bobby,

I had figured out the days you made deal mistakes from May 1, 2011 to May 11, 2011. What I am suggesting is these corrections.

You don’t know the past dates: (etc 2007), look on And why do you keep only the past 2 days? Use The Aces on Bridge archives on United Features Syndicate, and find more columns starting from January 1, 2007 to present. And do not put this on the Sunday columns.