Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

His mental processes are plain — one knows what he will do,
And can logically predicate his finish by his start.

Rudyard Kipling

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


Because this deal was the last of a session at the 1st World Mind Sports Games, maybe the players were tired, which is perhaps why some took their eyes off the ball.

A low-heart lead away from the ace could lead to the defeat of the club slam, but who would find that?

At the table, West led a spade and declarer took the free finesse. The queen held, but declarer made the fatal error of discarding a low diamond from hand. This would not have cost if trump had not divided 4-0. A heart discard — or even the diamond ace — would have saved declarer. But South should have foreseen that the diamond queen might be needed as a late entry back to dummy.

Declarer cannot afford to cash a high trump from dummy, and so does best to work on spades. The spade ace (for a second heart discard), then a spade ruff, is followed by a high club from hand, getting the bad news. Now comes a low diamond toward the queen. It does not matter whether West inserts the king — the diamond entry to dummy will still be there. As you can see, though, the early diamond discard blocked the suit.

When West takes his diamond king, then whatever he returns, another spade ruff can be engineered, setting up that suit. After South cashes his last trump, he can re-enter dummy via the diamond queen and draw trumps.

Your partner's bid is highly encouraging but not forcing. In context, your heart king and four trumps are almost enough to drive to game. I'd settle for a call of four clubs though, because if your partner reoffers four hearts, you can pass happily.


♠ 10 7 4
 J 9 7 3 2
♣ 9 6 4 2
South West North East
1 Pass
Pass Dbl. 3♣ 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


Howard Bigot-JohnsonJune 6th, 2012 at 10:35 am

Hi there, yet another instructive hand on how one should think ahead before deciding what to do on trick one.
Gut instinct appears to say , given the free finesse on spades , pitch two diamonds……something I might well have done at the table, before pinning my hopes on a cross ruff to steer home 9 clubs tricks and the ace of diamonds for glory and success. This plan only needed hearts to break in the same way as spades (4-3). Not an unreasonable plan ………surely ?
But finding a perfect way home , even with the above layout in mind, is clearly one best left for pessimists and world experts. For me there’s so much to learn…..yet hardly any time left in which to do so. Yours HBJ.

bobby wolffJune 7th, 2012 at 9:32 pm


I would, of course, like to think I would have followed the recommended column line, but in reality I probably would have gotten careless, not providing for the horrible trump stack.

The playing of bridge, particularly attempting the high level kind, is indeed a humbling experience. However, keep on trying is the best advice I keep telling everyone who asks, including myself.

Thanks for your modest and always creative comments. You are indeed a great ambassador for our wonderful game.