Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, May 16th, 2011

Vulnerable: Both

Dealer: South


10 8 5 4 2


A Q 10 6

A 7 5



K 9 7 5 2

K 9 5 4

K 9 6


7 6

8 6

8 7 3 2

Q J 10 8 4


A K Q 9 3

A Q J 10 3


3 2


South West North East
1 Pass 4 * Pass
4 NT Pass 5 Pass
7 All pass

*A game-forcing spade raise with short hearts

Opening Lead: Spade jack

“Cut your coat according to your cloth.”

— Anonymous

In today’s deal the level of the slam dictates the line of play, whether it is the small or the grand slam that is reached. The hand came along during the four-session Swiss Teams Championship, the main event of the second weekend of the 2007 10-day Brighton Summer Congress in England.

When six spades was the contract, declarer rose with dummy’s ace on the club lead, then drew trumps. The 2-1 trump break leads to a 100 percent line for the slam: Cash the diamond ace, then lead the diamond queen. If East covers with the king, ruff. Then comes the heart ace, followed by a heart ruff in dummy, to allow South’s losing club to be jettisoned on the diamond 10. And if East does not contribute the diamond king, declarer discards the losing club. West may take the diamond king, but that is all. The diamond 10 takes care of one heart loser, and the other three are trumped in dummy.

However, when it is the heady heights of seven spades that has been reached, following an excess of zeal by South, it is to the heart suit that declarer turns for the extra tricks. As it is dummy’s and not declarer’s club losers that must be disposed of, the straightforward heart finesse will not suffice.

After drawing trumps, play out the heart ace, then the queen for a ruffing finesse. So long as West has the heart king, two heart tricks can be established in hand for club discards from dummy.


South holds:

K 5 3
A 9 7 3 2
Q 6
A 10 6


South West North East
1 Pass Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 2
All pass
ANSWER: My best guess would be to lead the heart ace, playing partner for heart shortage. East appears to have passed initially with six spades, so may well have four hearts on the side, making your decision to play for heart ruffs more appealing. You also have trump control, often important when playing for ruffs.


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