Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

We prove what we want to prove, and the real difficulty is to know what we want to prove.

Emile Chartier

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


Today's deal from the spring nationals at Louisville last year comes from the semifinals of the Vanderbilt Trophy. One of the four pairs played six hearts here and could not bring it home. The other three pairs all reached six spades, and one declarer was fortunate enough after a totally artificial auction to receive a heart lead, which he ducked to East's king. No matter what came back, declarer could arrange to draw trump and run the hearts.

But at the other two tables, on very similar auctions to the one shown, West led a low club. Since the lead could equally well have been from length or shortage, both declarers went up with the ace and ruffed a red-suit to hand to play trump from the top, hoping for a 4-3 spade split. They both went down a trick when spades did not break.

From a psychological and mathematical perspective, I believe both players misplayed the hand. The chance that West held a singleton club is no better than 15 percent, and, especially on this auction, you would surely expect a club lead, no matter what West had in the suit. The best play is to duck the ace and try to win the club in hand. If you do so, draw trump in five rounds, discarding the club ace from dummy, and knock out the club king for a painless 12 tricks. If the club king is to your right, you will still survive, so long as there is no immediate club ruff.

In this auction, where you would start with a double of one no-trump with a decent balanced hand, you can afford to cue-bid two diamonds to show a limited hand with both majors. This way, not only do you get to the best fit, but you also allow partner to compete if necessary, knowing he is facing a shapely hand.


♠ 9 7 6 4 3
 K 9 8 3
 5 4
♣ K 4
South West North East
1 Dbl. 1 NT

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