Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Everything seemed won,
And all the rest for them permissible ease.

Robert Frost

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

* Two aces and a king, or an ace and three kings


Every Tuesday this month I have been running deals from Robert Ewen and Jeff Rubens' new book, "It's All in the Game." These deals combine many technical points with an amusing format. In this one, I've kept Rubens' language, as the guru teaches a student how to play his delicate grand slam in clubs.

The student thinks he has cracked the problem: “South can’t be sure what to discard on spades until he plays hearts. So he wins the opening lead, draws trump, then plays three rounds of hearts ending in dummy. If hearts split 3-3, he throws the diamond queen on the high spade; otherwise, he pitches a heart and takes the diamond finesse.”

“No, you’re not with it yet.” The guru shook his head sadly. “Don’t be in such a hurry to jump into the main theme. Take your time. Do your discard thing later, but ruff a spade at trick two. West isn’t morally obligated to lead fourth-highest, particularly against a grand slam. He may have five spades, four hearts, and the diamond king. If you ruff a spade at once, establishing a menace against West, he will be forced to discard the diamond king when you run your trumps. But if East can guard spades, there is no squeeze.”

Rubens’ point is that if you do not ruff a spade, East keeps spades, West hearts, and declarer has to find the diamond king. But the spade ruff at trick two avoids any guess, as the cards lie, while giving up nothing.

Your partner's two-club call suggests interest in game if you are at the upper end of a 0-8 range. With your good shape and a decent hand, jump to three hearts to tell your whole story in one bid. This suggests your actual pattern and a nonminimum.


♠ J 9 5 4 2
 J 9 7 3
 K 9
♣ 5 2
South West North East
1♣ Dbl. Pass
1♠ Pass 2♣ 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