Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Split the lark and you'll find the music,
Bulb after bulb, in silver rolled,
Scantily dealt to the summer morning,
Saved for your ear when lutes be old.

Emily Dickinson

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


When you're a truly great player, even if you have a complete bidding misunderstanding and end up in a dreadful contract, you can still focus and play for your best chance. In today's deal Bob Hamman managed to bid himself to the less-than-optimum contract of six diamonds. (Let's blame his partner.)

West started with a low spade to dummy’s king, and Hamman ruffed away East’s ace. He then played a diamond to the king, a diamond to the jack, and the diamond ace: one hurdle negotiated successfully.

He then cashed three rounds of hearts and exited with a low club. East won his singleton jack, perforce, and now had to give dummy three spade tricks (one more than declarer needed at this stage).

Very nicely played, but can you see how the defenders could have scuppered his plan?

West had (or should have had) a count of the whole deal. He knew declarer had started with a void in spades, four hearts (his partner having played up the line to show an odd number), and five diamonds. Therefore, he had four clubs. He could not possibly have started with A-Q-J-x in clubs or he would have discarded one on the spade queen when he had the chance. Consequently, East must have the singleton club jack or queen. In either case, West should go in with the club king, crashing his partner’s honor, and return the 10, thus ensuring a fourth-round trick for himself in the suit.

If ever a hand with four trump looked like one with only three, this is it. You would rather slow down the auction than encourage partner to do any more bidding than he feels compelled to. So just raise to two hearts and do not feel obligated to compete any further until partner shows signs of life.


♠ K Q 10 9
 8 7 3 2
 K 6
♣ 8 4 3
South West North East
1 1 Dbl.

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


David WarheitMarch 24th, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Why not play a low spade from dummy at trick one? End of all problems, making 6. Both my line and Hamman’s require hearts to be 3-2 & east to hold queen third of diamonds, and it’s a given that east has the ace of spades. Against best defence, Hamman’s line requires a defender to hold the singleton king of clubs and exactly 3 hearts or for east to have king third of clubs. My line only requires west to have the jack of spades.

bobby wolffMarch 24th, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Hi David,

Yes, as usual you are correct, except, on this bidding West could be underleading his ace of spades, but not the jack. However, your line of play seems more likely to succeed and that is almost the bottom line.

As for the bidding, Bob’s partner must have gotten much criticism, but at the same time, those spades of his looked much more promising than his hearts, but the contract was so awful, someone would have gotten much blame, only to be saved by the incredible turn of events.

Such is life in the elite bridge world who, sadly are, at least for public consumption, too results oriented.

Thanks for your contribution to better bridge.