Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Old age is an incurable disease.


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


The late Dr. Nissan Rand, a former double World Champion, was one of the most fervent advocates of senior bridge. Under his auspices world championships at senior level took on equal ranking with the open, women and junior events. Because these days I have also become a devotee of senior bridge, I owe him a great debt of gratitude!

In today’s deal Nissan’s sequence of making a forcing pass, then removing the double, was conventional to show a stronger hand than a direct call of five hearts. At his third turn North felt he held at least a king more than he had so far promised in the bidding, so he took a shot at the small slam.

West led the diamond ace, ruffed. Hardly pausing for breath, Rand cashed the heart ace, then led a low club to dummy’s king. This held, as was expected from the bidding. Now came the diamond king, Nissan discarding his club 10, and next a club to his queen. West won with the ace, whereupon Nissan claimed the slam, as West was endplayed.

A spade would be into South’s spade tenace, a diamond gives a ruff and discard for the losing spade to be discarded; and if a low club is returned, the nine is inserted. Either it wins, or clubs break 3-3, in which case dummy’s 13sth club takes care of South’s losing spade.

Though technically the slam can be made after any lead, this line required no guesswork for declarer.

The right time to raise your partner when you have only three-card support is when you have a small doubleton in a side suit. Here you have moderate three-card support, but more importantly you have a top honor in each side-suit, so you should not feel embarrassed about rebidding one no-trump and limiting your hand precisely.


♠ A 8 7
 K 9 7 5
 K 4
♣ K 9 3 2
South West North East
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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Alex AlonApril 10th, 2012 at 9:15 am

I had the privilege to play against Dr. Nissan Rand few times. Great man he was.

Howard Bigot-JohnsonApril 10th, 2012 at 1:02 pm

HBJ : When holding two Aces and an outside queen in the other major, you do have a major lead problem…..but there is no urgency or risk in leading a trump and surveying dummy FIRST. Declarer will of course have to open up one of these 3 side suits so surely there was no hurry to cash potential winners. West needs East to help him out with count signals where possible.
On a heart lead declarer will no doubt go for clubs first with a difficult decision to make. Asssuming he successfully finesses East’s Jack ……all East can do is take his Ace and retain the Jack to avoid declarer pitching a spade on dummy’s 4th club. Slam down ? It seems not because declarer on running the trumps can come to a 3 card ending : KJx of spades in hand, with Ax of spades and the club 9 in dummy. West is squeezed because if he keeps his club Jack he leaves the Q9 of spades severely exposed.

jim2April 10th, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Because I am always on the lookout for Morton’s Fork opportunities, I think I might have recognized that the bidding and opening lead – by placing the AC and setting up the KD – had essentially created one in clubs.

If I did manage this at the table though, it would have been nothing so quickly as did Dr. Rand.

bobby wolffApril 10th, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Hi Alex, HBJ, and Jim2,

Yes, Dr. Rand was a very intelligent man, with an enthusiastic attitude, and a real bridge lover. He once visited my house in Dallas and convinced me to take a wonderful and instructive trip to Israel which I did and loved it. About 1 1/2 years ago when the WBF held the World Championship in Philadelphia, relatively soon after Nissan’s untimely death, I was priviliged to meet up again with Nissan’s wonderful wife Judy who attended while the WBF was honoring Nissan for his playing and administering accomplishments.

Back to bridge. If, West would lead his trump and then the declarer would arrange to trump both diamonds in hand he would have to then guess the location of the club jack to give him the best opportunity to score up the slam. Also to HBJ, yes West’s key cards would have to be exposed but nevertheless declarer would have to guess where they are in order to succeed.

Jim2’s lookout for a Morton’s Fork would have to be put on hold to live another day (hand), but much credit should be given Jim for, with the errant lead, to recognize that play in this unusual setting. It seems as if very intelligent bridge aficionados are being crowned often, complete with uniquely used names for their brilliant plays.

Can you imagine West after this real hand screaming out for all to hear, “Forked again”?

David WarheitApril 11th, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Howard: It’s actually much easier than you stated. If south plays a club to dummy’s 9, this wins, so he continues with a club to his queen. West wins and can only exit with the club jack. Declarer wins in dummy, and now runs all but one of his trumps. This leaves declarer with one trump and his original 3 spades, dummy with Ax of spades, king of diamonds and a small club. West’s last 4 cards are club 7, diamond ace and 3 spades. Oops, that’s 5 cards. Triple squeeze! Declarer cannot possibly go wrong, since he still has another trump to cash, forcing west either to discard the master club or diamond or to bare the queen of spades. Even if west did not have the queen of spades, declarer would have a proven spade finesse at the end on the simple assumption that west had the ace of diamonds for his overcall, otherwise he would have led the queen of diamonds at trick one.