Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, December 15th, 2012

A straw vote only shows which way the hot air blows.

O. Henry

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


Today's deal is a tester. Against your slam of six spades West leads a trump — which certainly feels like a good start for the defenders, though in fact a low heart lead would have been fatal. With one diamond and six spade tricks, you need to score all five of your clubs, and that simply requires 4-3 clubs. But can you improve on those chances?

The answer is yes, but the play must be precise. Win the spade queen, and when both opponents follow, you lead a diamond to the ace, a club to the ace, and take a diamond ruff. This is followed by a low club ruff (do NOT cash the club king) and the sight of the club jack should alert you to the possibilities of a bad break in that suit.

A diamond ruff, and a low club ruff disclose the bad news. A diamond ruff high and the spade ace reduces everyone to four cards. You have a trump, a heart and the K-10 of clubs, dummy and West have four hearts, and East is down to the doubleton heart ace and the guarded club queen. On the last trump if East pitches a club, you cash two winners; if he throws a small heart away, you lead a heart and endplay him. And if he pitches his heart ace, you lead a heart to the nine and claim, whoever wins the trick!

Three clubs here is a forcing call, asking you to assess your suitability for the suit game or no-trump. Your hand is minimum with no diamond stop so a simple rebid of three spades seems best to me. With ace-fourth of diamonds and a singleton club, a three-diamond bid would make sense, but not here.


♠ K Q 4
 Q J 9 6 4
 8 5 4 2
♣ A
South West North East
1 Pass 1♠ Pass
2♠ 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