Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.

Thomas Jefferson

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

*No trump queen


Today's deal comes from a recent U.S. Nationals, where IMP scoring was in place. What that means is that just like in a team game the swings on the big deals would determine whether you did well or badly, unlike the standard pair game, where every deal is equally important.

The deal came up in the first final session of the IMP Pairs. The author indicated that he was lucky enough to be the beneficiary of a gift here, but that names would not be used, to protect the guilty. Where would you like to play? The slam of six spades is not great, but it is quite playable. South’s decision not to open two clubs is questionable, but once he found a moderate hand and spade support opposite, nothing could keep him below the six-level. How should South play on a club lead?

The right answer is to win the club ace, cash the top spades, then play off the heart ace. Now you take your two high diamonds and ruff a diamond. If the suit splits, you are home. If East overruffs, you were never going to make it. However, if you ruff the third diamond and no queen appears, but East cannot overruff, you take your second chance. You run the heart queen to pitch a diamond. So long as the heart king is onside, you rate to be able to pitch your diamonds on the winning club and a heart in dummy.

You have enough to bid two hearts — but what if the next hand raises to three diamonds? You will not then have enough to commit the hand to four clubs, so you may be better off raising to three clubs directly, planning to bid three hearts when the opponents compete to three diamonds. That sequence surely suggests this sort of hand.


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

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