Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Doubts are more cruel than the worst of truths.


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


Today's problem is a defensive one, so put yourself in the West seat. South is declarer in six no-trump after opening one no-trump. North showed five spades, then offered a choice of small slams with his jump to five no-trump, rejecting South's suggestion of diamonds as a place to play.

You, West, lead the club queen, which declarer wins in dummy and plays a spade to his jack. Plan the defense.

You know that partner has no points at all. If you win the spade ace, you can be sure that declarer will be able to test spades with impunity before examining his other chances. Since the spades do split, declarer will surely come to 12 tricks. However, just because YOU know spades split, does not mean declarer can be as confident of this!

If you refuse to win your spade ace on this round and the next (perhaps even throwing in an echo with your small cards just to try to persuade declarer that things are not going his way), South will not know that spades are breaking. He may decide to test diamonds first. When they fail to break, he will go back to spades (hoping that the spades break and that whoever has the ace was originally short in diamonds), but now you will be able to win your ace and cash a diamond trick for down one.

Ducking the spade is not sure to defeat the hand; winning it is sure to let the slam come home.

There are two attractive choices here. You might jump to three no-trump, suggesting a balanced hand with a good heart stop. Or you can bid two diamonds, natural and forcing, planning to bid no-trump later. I strongly prefer the second choice, since we might find out about an absence of spade stops for no-trump, or we might get to a club or diamond slam.


♠ J 2
 K Q 6
 K Q 6 4 2
♣ A 7 2
South West North East
1♣ 1

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