Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Who overcomes
By force hath overcome but half his foe.

John Milton

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


Against your six-spade contract the opening lead is the diamond three. You win the ace, RHO playing the eight. Plan the play to protect against as many bad breaks as possible.

After winning dummy’s diamond ace, play the spade ace, and now switch your attention to hearts. Lead out the queen, then play to the heart king.

If West discards on the second heart, win, ruff a heart, then lead a trump to dummy and run the hearts. It doesn’t matter if the third heart is overruffed since you can ruff a diamond in dummy, then draw the last trump; equally, West’s ruffing in on the second heart would clearly be fatal.

If it was East who could ruff the second heart to play a club, win with the ace, cross in spades (drawing the opponent’s last trump), then ruff a heart, ruff a club, and run the hearts.

What happens if hearts are 5-0? If RHO ruffs the heart queen, you may still survive in much the same way as before. You simply need to take a heart finesse somewhere along the line after drawing the last trump. If LHO ruffs the heart queen, you will still survive if he does not have a third trump to play. (You have just enough entries to set up the long heart.) All in all, six spades makes except against 4-0 trumps or against a combined very bad heart break and trump break, when nothing would have worked.

The hand is too good for a rebid in either hearts or spades. Best is to cuebid two clubs, simply showing a good hand, planning to bid two spades over two of a red suit from partner. This way your partner will know of real extras opposite (typically extra high-cards rather than four-card trump support). If you play — as I do — that one spade promises five, cuebid, then jump to three spades to force to game.


♠ K 10 4
 A K 10 6 4 2
 A 6 4
♣ 3
South West North East
1 Pass 1♠ 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


ClarksburgSeptember 22nd, 2012 at 5:11 pm

No high-level comments here yet today, so here’s an intermediate-level question:
In the auction, it seems South showed a minimum, and then signed off (I assume) with the 4S bid.
After North’s enthusiastic 5D bid, South, knowing full well about the duplication with both minor suit Aces facing singletons, carried on.
Was South likely obliged to show the Club control, or was it still a judgement call to continue?…if judgement, was possession of the heart Q the justification?

bobby wolffSeptember 23rd, 2012 at 5:11 am

Hi Clarksburg,

IMO, South was close to bidding more than just a return to 4 spades, once his partner showed a spade fit and club shortness. The good news for South’s hand was his ace of clubs, of course, the big queen of hearts, the singleton diamond and the sixth spade offsetting his poor spade spot cards and the possibly wasted queen of clubs.

Once North carried on with 5 diamonds, he met his responsibility to partner to not only continue on but, to show the ace of clubs, just in case partner had enough to consider a grand slam, which he most certainly would have if he had both the KQ of spades rather than just the king.

The important caveat to learn here is that during the bidding one’s hand continues to change in value and knowing that once being conservative it then becomes a really good hand for the way it had been bid up to then.

Instead of technical knowledge, and good competitive instincts being the most important top-level bridge attributes, extremely talented judgment separates the top level players from each other. The ability during the bidding to visualize how the hand will fit and therefore be played is very necessary to reach the highest level.

Thanks for your question which was higher level than you suspected.