Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Vulnerable: Both

Dealer: East


6 2

K Q J 8 3

10 9 8

K J 6


10 7 3

9 7 5 2

Q 3

10 9 8 5


A Q J 5 4

A 6

7 6 5 4 2



K 9 8

10 4


A Q 7 4 3


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

*Transfer to hearts

Opening Lead: Spade three

“I celebrate myself; and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume;

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

— Walt Whitman

When you have reached game after a defender has opened the bidding, it still may not be right to play the opener for all the outstanding points. Today’s deal is from the European 2002 Mixed Teams Championship.

In most matches, East opened the bidding with one spade, but South ended in three no-trump. West led the spade three, East inserted the jack — good technique for the defenders to retain communication in the spade suit — and South took the king.

Five clubs, one spade, plus the ace and king of diamonds bring the trick total to eight. Knocking out the heart ace allows the defenders to cash four more spades, so that was not an option.

Many declarers saw matters in a simple light. With only 13 points outstanding, East was favored to hold them all. Therefore, they entered dummy with a top club and took the diamond finesse. That was two down, and no doubt South would consider himself unlucky, but he had missed the point of the deal.

Other more thoughtful declarers appreciated that East would come under pressure on the run of the club suit if he held the missing honors. As it transpired, East needed to find four discards. If these included a spade, then a heart could have been set up in safety.

At the table, East discarded three diamonds plus a heart. Now South cashed both top diamonds and was gratified to find the queen dropping doubleton, though not from East as expected, but from West.


South holds:

6 2
K Q J 8 3
10 9 8
K J 6


South West North East
1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
3 Pass 3 NT Pass
ANSWER: Although it may look obvious to pass now, you have really not shown any values yet, and in a slam your hearts might prove useful as discards for partner’s slow diamond losers. Given that your partner is almost sure to have five clubs and four spades, the logical call is to bid four clubs, showing real support and some slam interest. Let partner take over now, if he can.


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


John Howard GibsonJune 1st, 2011 at 12:27 am

HBJ again : Just a little thought. If the line of play is to run out clubs, only to see East pitch 3 diamonds it is odds on now the Queen is with West : so there’s no option really other to play for the drop. If however East decides to pitches only 2D (and one heart) he has to pitch a spade. So in reality he is utterly squeezed, and the contract will make on a heart thrown in. A curious hand in which declarer can go wrong. East either has to give up a spade winner, or give the game away in diamonds. Now that’s what I call ” being stymied “

John Howard GibsonJune 1st, 2011 at 12:29 am

Sorry, I meant to say ” declarer can’t go wrong “

bobbywolffJune 1st, 2011 at 5:23 pm


First, I ALWAYS appreciate your summations, which allow much greater understanding.

Second, instead of East being between a rock and a hard place, perhaps we can say East is instead between a spade (rock and garden) and a diamond (definitely hard) discard, an impossible dilemma.