Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 21st, 2012

To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labor.

Robert Louis Stevenson

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

*Longer spades than clubs (canape)


At the 13th European Maccabi Games in Vienna, Heinrich Berger made a nice play to bring home his spade game. Berger, for decades one of Europe's leading bridge players, is representing the host country, Austria, but nowadays lives in Berlin, Germany.

Today’s deal was played in a match between Austria and Hungary. In theory, only four hearts played by North makes: On a black-suit lead declarer cashes his three top spades and West has to surrender.

However, Berger played in four spades. The defense started with two rounds of diamonds and continued the suit. Berger ruffed in his hand, cashed a top spade, then played a heart. West flew up with the ace and returned the spade jack. Declarer won, played three rounds of clubs, then cashed the heart king and jack.

On that trick East and South pitched a diamond and a club respectively. When, at the penultimate trick, North led a heart, East’s 9-7 of trumps were swallowed up by declarer’s Q-8. So in fact Berger had executed a Grand Coup for his contract, and since the hand was played in Vienna, one could with only the minimum of latitude describe the play as a special version of the Vienna Coup.

Note that there was a defense to the game. After cashing two rounds of diamonds, the defense prevails by switching to a club. On coming in with the heart ace, West destroys declarer’s communications for the coup by playing another round of clubs.

I've often advised my readers not to overcall at the two-level except with values and a six-card suit (the latter being perhaps more important than the former). But here you have the template for the absolutely minimum acceptable overcall. Key is that two hearts over one spade consumes the maximum space from the opponents.


♠ 10 4
 K J 8 3 2
 K 4
♣ A Q 10 6
South West North East

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