Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, November 9th, 2012

The stars have not dealt me the worst they could do:
My pleasures are plenty; my troubles are two.

A. E. Housman

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


Adam Zmudzinski and Cezary Balicki (commonly known as B and Z) have been one of the strongest Polish pairs for many years. Cezary Balicki was a master chess player before he turned to bridge and is acknowledged to be one of the world's best declarers.

Today’s deal sees Balicki time the play perfectly to make his three no-trump, reached after North had shown real extras by his second double. Start by covering up the East-West hands and have a try yourself.

West led the spade 10 to the queen and ace. Declarer then played a club to dummy’s ace and was not so happy to see East show out. Plan the play from here.

Realizing that if West had five spades and four clubs, he was going to be short in the red suits, Balicki cashed the heart ace and played a heart to his king before playing another club. When West split his honors, Balicki ducked.

What could West do? His best shot is to play the diamond ace and queen, but declarer simply won in dummy and conceded another club, losing just one spade, one diamond and two clubs.

Had West cashed the spade king, South would have pitched a club from dummy. Now, on a spade continuation he would have won in hand, pitching a diamond from North, and run the clubs. On the defense of ace and another diamond, he would duck a club and convert to the same winning position as above.

You may have a decent hand for the auction so far, but you should almost never compete to the three-level with only three trumps. These auctions are always about competing with shape, not high cards, since if partner has a balanced hand, your best shot to go plus is to defend. If partner has shape, he can bid on for himself.


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

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