Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 6th, 2011

Vulnerable: East-West

Dealer: East


A K 9 8 5 2

6 5 2

K 9

3 2


7 4

A K Q 10 8 3

10 7 2

9 7


J 6 3

J 9 7

A Q J 6 3

A 4


Q 10


8 5 4

K Q J 10 8 6 5


South West North East
1 NT*
4 4 4 Dbl.
5 Dbl. All pass


Opening Lead: Heart king

“From low to high doth dissolution climb,

And sink from high to low, along a scale

Of awful notes, whose concord shall not fail.”

— William Wordsworth

This deal is from the England-France Open Teams encounter at the 2002 European Bridge Teams Championships held in Salsomaggiore, Italy.

Danny Davies and John Armstrong, East and West, judged sensibly enough to defend. True, five hearts would have made when the diamonds behaved, but when bidding space has been pre-empted, going plus is always sensible at teams.

Duplicated boards were in use, so it was possible to work out, after the fact, that five clubs doubled was a popular contract, going two light in all the other matches where it was attempted — losing two diamond tricks, plus one club and one heart trick.

However, Danny Davies found a devilish defense to take the contract three off. John Armstrong led the heart king and, on receiving a count signal from his partner, switched to a diamond to the king and ace. East now found the killing return — the club four. See the effect of this: declarer wins in hand, but try as he might, he cannot avoid the loss of two further diamonds and the club ace.

If South plays another diamond, the defense wins, cashes the club ace, then can take a further diamond trick. Equally, if South tries to discard a diamond on a spade, West ruffs the third spade, and there are still a diamond and a club trick to come. The effect of leading the low trump is to prevent the diamond ruff, while retaining control of the hand.


South holds:

7 4
A K Q 10 8 3
10 7 2
9 7


South West North East
1 Dbl. 2
4 Pass 5 Pass
ANSWER: In auctions of this sort, where the opponents have bid a suit in which your side may not have a control, a bid of five of the trump suit by your partner asks for a control there. So his five-diamond bid should focus on your trumps (imagine him with a strong 4-4-1-4 but four small trumps). Bid the small slam — and don’t be surprised if the grand slam hinges upon a finesse at worst.


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


HBJAugust 20th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

HBJ : I appreciate that E/W have 5 H on, but what was South’s reason for pulling 4S doubled, given that his partner certainly has 6 ( possibly seven spades ) a suit in which he holds two honours.

As South I would have left the double in, suggesting I have some help in spades, leaving the final decision to him ( if he was lurking with delayed club support ).

Although it seems South’s hand only offers tricks if clubs are trumps, North also knows that by his 4C bid, and so he should still pass trusting his partner to make the right decision.

Bobby WolffAugust 20th, 2011 at 7:18 pm


While I certainly agree with you, and would not run from my partner’s doubled contract of 4 spades, perhaps you and I would meet a poor fate if the defense would, in effect defend in the same way that the opponents defended 5 clubs by ducking a club and creating more losers in their opponent’s 4 spade contract. Instead of down 2 (with good defense) against 5 clubs, it looks like 4 spades may go down 3 tricks as dummy’s seven solid clubs turns into only 1 trick.

Everything considered though, only North should do the running from 4 spades, if running was determined to be the prudent thing to do.