Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 7th, 2012

He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerve and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.

Edmund Burke

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


In today's six clubs South shook his head reflectively as dummy came down, thinking that he should have been in the grand slam. A few seconds later he was shaken back into wakefulness when he cashed the club king and realized he had an inevitable trump loser.

After winning the opening lead with his diamond ace, he cashed the heart ace and played a club to the king. The heart king and queen followed, allowing declarer to throw both his losing diamonds away. After the spade ace and king both stood up, South advanced the spade eight.

West did the best he could when he discarded a diamond, and declarer ruffed low in dummy. Now came the club queen, and after nine tricks (three spades, three hearts one diamond and two clubs) a four-card ending had been reached, with the lead in dummy. North had four losing red cards, declarer the A-J-9 of clubs and the spade queen. West had three clubs to the 10 and a diamond.

Now declarer led a heart from dummy and ruffed high. To avoid being endplayed in trumps at the next trick West under-ruffed, a defense that would have been good enough had East held the master spade. (South would have led a spade to East, and West would have scored his club 10.) But when declarer led his spade queen, West could score only one of the last three tricks whatever he did.

The simple route here is to bid Stayman, planning to bid two hearts over a response of two diamonds. This would be the equivalent of Crawling Stayman over a no-trump opening bid to suggest a weak hand with both majors. If partner shows a major, I'd guess to jump to game.


♠ J 10 6 3 2
 J 10 7 4 3
 K J 3
♣ —
South West North East
1 1 NT 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


David WarheitApril 23rd, 2012 at 5:02 pm

It’s interesting to note that south does not need the queen of spades in order to make his contract. At trick ten, south leads a diamond from dummy and ruffs low. He then cashes his two club winners, and at trick 13 leads his small spade which both opponents win, east with his master spade and west win his trump. The actual south could have done this as well, but he would have failed if west’s lone nontrump was not a diamond.

bobbywolffApril 23rd, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Hi David,

I will, of course, agree with you as to your assessment of both opponents winning the last trick and the queen of spades being of no value in making that happen.

The only judgment I can add, is that type of situation is not all that uncommon and quite often it occurs after a bad trump break, but the declarer is wary enough to exercise a trick with trumps, which leaves the defense with one trick less than they had hoped.

Bridge, especially the high-level kind, often has surprises available for those who seek them out and, more importantly, have the insight to execute them properly. If we worked together, you would be in charge of finding interesting hands which defied conventional understanding, but nevertheless provoked logical and worthwhile endings.

Thanks for your contributions.