Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 12th, 2012

True nobility is exempt from fear:
More can I bear than you dare execute.

William Shakespeare

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


Curiously, the way to beat three spades here is by leading dummy's short suit. However, although Tom Hanlon and Hugh McGann of Ireland did not find this lead when representing Europe in the 2008 Buffett Bridge Cup against the USA, they still found an ingenious way to defeat the partscore.

Against three spades Hanlon led a low heart to the two and king — McGann couldn’t be certain that South did not hold the singleton jack. At trick two, McGann found the fine switch to a low diamond, which declarer elected to win in hand. Had he taken with dummy’s ace instead, he would have been better placed.

Then came the trump king. If West wins this, then whether he returns a trump or a diamond, declarer can duck a club and later have two clubs available for diamond discards. But Hanlon withheld his ace, and now South could not chance playing another trump, as the defenders could then remove dummy’s trump and knock out the diamond ace before the clubs were set up.

Declarer therefore continued with three rounds of clubs, East pitching a diamond on the third. In with the club queen, Hanlon essentially returned a diamond. Since it was still unsafe to lead another trump, declarer continued with a fourth round of clubs. On this, McGann, to deter his partner from returning a heart, discarded the heart ace! Hanlon duly trumped the club and returned a diamond for East to overruff dummy. The trump ace was the defenders’ fifth trick.

You should use three diamonds, the fourth suit, as a temporizing bid here. Rebidding spades would show a sixth spade or a much better five-card suit, while bidding three no-trump prevents partner from producing secondary support for your spades. Your plan would be to bid three no-trump next if partner repeats his hearts.


♠ K Q 6 4 2
 K 9 6 4
♣ 8 6 3
South West North East
1 Pass
1♠ Pass 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