Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.

W.B. Yeats

South North
Neither ♠ K
 K 10 5 2
 A K Q 7 2
♣ A J 4
West East
♠ Q J 10 6 2
 A J 4
 J 8
♣ K 8 7
♠ 9 8 7 4
 10 6 5 4
♣ 10 9 3 2
♠ A 5 3
 Q 9 8 7 6
 9 3
♣ Q 6 5
South West North East
Pass 1♠ Dbl. 4♠
Dbl. Pass 4 NT Pass
5 Pass 6 All pass


Today's deal from the Cavendish Pairs shows two declarers who pay proper attention to their dental work. In each case they had reached an exceedingly delicate slam and needed to negotiate the missing honors in both hearts and clubs.

The auction had climbed to a great height before North-South found their heart fit, but both declarers knew East had very few high cards but lots of shape — hence, probably short hearts.

On a spade lead against six hearts, one declarer, Guido Ferraro, won the king, cashed the diamond ace and king, then led a heart to his queen. The so-called Dentist’s Coup had extracted West’s troublesome doubleton diamond, depriving him of a convenient exit card. When West won the heart ace, he had to return a black suit, thus providing declarer with a convenient entry to hand to finesse in hearts and make his slam.

Peter Weichsel and Rose Meltzer reached the same contract on a similar auction.

Peter also received the spade-queen lead and played the hand similarly to Ferraro, but with one slight refinement. He won the spade king, cashed the diamond ace and king, then unblocked in hearts by leading the 10 to his queen and West’s ace. Again West had to concede a black-suit entry to the South hand, allowing declarer to finesse hearts through the opening bidder.

If declarer does not cash the two top diamonds, West wins the heart ace and exits in diamonds, locking declarer in dummy and preventing him from taking the heart finesse for his contract.

Your partner has suggested 4-5 in spades and diamonds and your options are to pass, correct to two diamonds, or rebid one no-trump. All three calls make sense, but with no likely eight-card fit, passing one spade now is the most prudent action. With the doubleton diamond ace and three small spades, I'd bid one no-trump.


♠ A 5 3
 Q 9 8 7 6
 9 3
♣ Q 6 5
South West North East
1♣ 1 Pass
1 Pass 1♠ Pass

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


Howard Bigot-JohnsonDecember 17th, 2011 at 4:01 pm

HBJ : Brilliant foresight by declarer……which is what makes this game so wonderful to watch, read and play. Spotting dangers is all too often hampered by impetuosity. But oh how to disarm the defence in one simple manoeuvre..

Bobby WolffDecember 17th, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Hi Angelo,

We appreciate your thoughtful comment. Yes, if nothing else, the game of bridge forces players to think, which in turn is what humans are put on earth to do.

The enjoyable part is hearing from nice people like you, that it is also instructive.

Thanks for taking the time to write.

Bobby WolffDecember 17th, 2011 at 5:55 pm


Bridge is a game which obviously loves you as much as you love it.

With a match like that, and an appreciative connoisseur like you to offer continual positive comments, yours is the world and all that’s in it and what is more, you are a great friend, my son. (with apologies to Rudyard Kipling).

David WarheitDecember 18th, 2011 at 4:51 am

There is an alternate line of play which I think is better and is certainly simpler than the one chosen by all of the players you mention: win the opening lead with the ace of spades, lead a heart and finesse the ten. Yes, this could lose to the singleton jack, but the diamonds don’t have to be 2-4. What do you think?

Bobby WolffDecember 18th, 2011 at 7:09 am

Hi David,

Yes, your suggestion has much merit and may be the best line percentage wise, however….. consider the possibility of East being void in hearts (a greater chance than the percentage tables would show, because of his aggressive 4 spade jump without a face card and no more than 4 trumps), and (I imagine you meant to pass one of the declarer’s intermediate hearts rather than lead one to the ten (catering to the 4-0 split similar to Weichsel’s brilliancy of leading the 10 to the queen). Once you successfully pass an intermediate heart with East showing out, West can then rise with the ace and continue a spade which will almost certainly put paid to your slam since West will then be known to have nine major suit cards and therefore unlikely to have 3 or 4 diamonds. Add that possibility to East’s holding the singleton heart jack (possibly almost a 25-30% chance on the bidding) and we move back to square one.

One of my old gambling buddies who played poker instead of bridge once told me that when there is a real life close situation in poker and somebody does it right (Weichsel in this case in bridge with Ferraro close behind) let then the winner do the explaining.

However, your play is certainly in the running for best, and if not, it has to be very close.

Thanks for letting us be privy to your overall bridge expertise which, in turn allows all the readers to have another thought on what to think about and why.