Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 30th, 2012

And now the matchless deed's achieved,
Determined, dared, and done.

Christopher Smart

South North
East-West ♠ K Q 6
 A Q 6 2
 A 6 5 3 2
♣ 7
West East
♠ 2
 J 10 9 4
 K Q J
♣ K Q J 6 5
♠ J 10 8
 5 3
 10 9 8 4
♣ 10 9 8 3
♠ A 9 7 5 4 3
 K 8 7
♣ A 4 2
South West North East
1♠ Dbl. Rdbl. Pass
2♠ Pass 4♣ Pass
4 Pass 4 NT Pass
5 Pass 5 NT Pass
6* Pass 7♠ All pass

*Showing the heart king


Today's deal features a problem in both the bidding and the play. After West doubles one spade, North redoubles to show a good hand, South rebids two spades to show a minimum hand with six spades, and North can make a splinter raise to four clubs to show a singleton club and spade support. That lets South show his diamond control, and North follows up with Blackwood for aces, then with five no-trump for specific kings. When South shows the heart king, North takes a shot at the grand slam, taking the reasonable gamble that his side can take enough tricks from club ruffs in his hand, or that declarer can establish diamonds.

The lead of the club king goes to the ace. Next comes a club ruff, the spade king, the diamond ace, and a diamond ruff.

This is followed by the spade queen, a second diamond ruff, and the spade ace, while the heart two is thrown from dummy. A heart to the queen for a further diamond ruff is followed by the heart king, and dummy is high.

The advantage of following this line of play is that declarer gets to discover whether the diamonds are going to break before he has to discard from dummy on the third top spade. Had East discarded on the third diamond, then the play of the last trump from South’s hand would have squeezed West if he had begun with five diamonds and four hearts.

On this auction, dummy will put down four spades while declarer will have four hearts. Since both minor suits are extremely unattractive to lead from, I suggest you might as well lead from your five-card suit. Since you have the balance of high cards on defense, it might work out well to lead a deceptive spade two.


♠ Q 9 6 4 2
 J 5 4
 Q 3
♣ A 8 3
South West North East
1 NT
Pass 2♣ Pass 2
Pass 3 NT All 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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


jim2February 13th, 2012 at 2:00 pm

The column line is a display of superior technique. One fairly obvious thing that space might have kept you from noting is that declarer assumed from the start that West likely had four hearts (from the double). Thus, hearts breaking 3-3 was unlikely.

Then, once spades were confirmed to be 1-3, the only question that remained was if West had started 1-4-3-5, 1-4-4-4, or 1-4-5-3. The column line catered to all of them and, if West had oddly started with 1-3 in the majors, the heart suit would break.

Very nice technique indeed.

On the bidding quiz, I have a question. Many partnerships seem to play that a 2N response to 1N is not the old standard invitation (in most such cases it is a puppet to 3C). Instead, they go through Stayman and have marked on their cards “Stayman does not guarantee 4-card major.” Would the suggested lead remain the same in that situation?

Bobby WolffFebruary 13th, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Hi Jim2,

Thanks for your complete discussion of today’s hand. If there was such a thing as a bridge college offering a degree in bridge, you would be one of the leading teachers.

Yes, there are a number of experienced partnerships who do not promise a 4 card major with a Stayman inquiry. However and in addition, when the responder merely jumps to 3NT after the 1NTer has responded in hearts (almost always the preferred response when holding both 4 card majors) the responder is showing a lack of interest in spades, so, of course, in the BWTA problem a spade, probably the 4th best, would certainly be the preferred lead.

If your inquiring mind would then ask, what purpose would the responder in the above case have for bidding 2 clubs rather than just 3NT, an example hand might be, Axx, x, Kxxxx, Kxxx, where if partner (the 1NT opener) denies holding a 4 card heart holding, then he would respond 3 diamonds, searching out a possibly safer game contract.

Of course some partnerships have switched to a jump to three of a major shows a singleton in that suit and at least nine cards in the minors with, of course, game going values. For a partnership to decide on which way to play usually depends on whether they as a pair believe that the jump to show a singleton gives both defensive partners the ability to lead the short major held by the dummy because of the ability for the 3rd seat defender (non opening leader) to double for the lead.

And the beat goes on, but all with the intention of making bridge bidding to be both accurate and as deceptive (rendering the defense less opportunity to interfere) as possible.

jim2February 13th, 2012 at 4:37 pm

No, no!

YOU would be the professor. I would merely be the guy who always seems to be raising his hand!

Michael BeyroutiFebruary 14th, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Well said Jim2!
I couldn’t stop myself from lol !…

jim2February 14th, 2012 at 5:08 pm