Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 21th, 2011

Vulnerable: Both

Dealer: East


K Q 5 2

A K J 10 4

4 2

A 4


J 10 6

Q 7

J 10 8 7 5 3

J 6



9 8 6 3

A 9 6

K Q 9 8 3


9 8 7 4 3

5 2


10 7 5 2


South West North East
Pass 1 Dbl. Pass
1 Pass 3 Pass
4 All pass

Opening Lead: Club jack

“Necessity has no law.”

— Saint Augustine

Sometimes one has to project the complete distribution and work out that bad splits can be more productive than a favorable break. That is especially true of deals like this one, though the underlying idea may be rather hard to spot.

After fairly aggressive bidding by North, Augustin Santamaria of Argentina reached a delicate four-spade contract, made even more challenging because the auction had indicated the danger of bad splits. On the lead of the club jack, Santamaria took dummy’s ace and played a low diamond. East won his ace, cashed the club queen, and exited with a diamond.

At this point Santamaria was in a very awkward position. He could see that if trumps were 2-2, then unless West specifically had the doubleton J-10 of trumps, the defenders could promote a trump winner for themselves by leading a third round of clubs after taking the trump ace. Therefore, when declarer led the spade seven from hand and West followed with a small trump, declarer went for his only legitimate chance to make the hand by ducking in dummy! When East produced the spade ace, there was no longer any chance for the defense to produce a second trump trick. Thus the contract made, for a 12-IMP pickup for Argentina on the way to an upset victory in a match from the 1986 Rosenblum Cup.

(Even if East had played a third club instead of a second diamond, declarer would have succeeded if he was able to read the position.)


South holds:

K Q 5 2
A K J 10 4
4 2
A 4


South West North East
1 Pass 1 NT Pass
ANSWER: The obvious answer is to reverse with a call of two spades, showing this major-suit pattern and extra values. A viable and to my mind preferable alternative is to ignore the spades (partner won’t have length there, after all) and simply to invite game with a call of two no-trump, suggesting a good 17-19 points.


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