Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

The verdict of the world is conclusive.

St. Augustine

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


In today's deal, West leads the heart 10 against what turns out to be a fairly shaky no-trump slam. (Maybe a jump to five no-trump by North to offer a choice of slams would have been more sensible.) East wins the heart ace and returns the three to your king. What is your plan to make your contract?

Obviously, you need East to have the club king to have any chance of making your contract. If he has that card and clubs are 3-2, then almost any plan will succeed. When he has four clubs headed by the king, you will need West to have at least two diamonds, but suppose that West has four diamonds.

The simple line is to win the second heart, lead a diamond to the king, then take a club finesse. When you next cash the diamond ace and lead a diamond toward dummy, West meanly puts in the 10, robbing you of an entry to dummy. Now you need clubs to split 3-2, since you have no more entries to the board.

A better line is to win the diamond ace at trick three, then lead the diamond jack and overtake it if West follows suit. You take a club finesse and are left with the Q-9 of diamonds in dummy facing two small diamonds in hand. Whatever the original lie of the diamonds, you can now insure two further entries to dummy to allow you to take two more finesses in clubs and bring home your slam.

The answer here is more about partnership agreement than judgment. I suggest you adopt the idea that your partner in fourth chair can bid any suit or no-trump naturally, so a call of two clubs or two hearts would be natural. To show the unbid suits, jump to two no-trump, or double with more high cards and less shape. Here it feels right to pass two hearts, not raise to three hearts.


♠ J 10 5
 J 7
 K Q 9 4
♣ 9 6 5 2
South West North East
Pass 1 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieMarch 26th, 2013 at 10:58 am

Hi Bobby,

On BWTA the opponent’s relative quiet and your own strength are further pointers towards partner not having a strong spade-diamond hand or similar, else why didn’t east dbl or raise? Yet I recall havoc from one cue-bid many years ago.

At favourable, I was south in 3rd position playing an inter-county teams of 12 match but had been to a late party the night before. Pard passed RHO bid 1H so my hangover and I went for the KISS approach of bidding an old style 2H with no cards in the majors, 7D to the AKQ10 and 6C to the AK10. Partner alerted, LHO with 7132 shape (incl SAQJ and single HQ) asked and was rightly told I should have spades and clubs – oops. Partner had S10 H10xxxxx Dxx CQJxx and bid 3C so I bid 7C after rho passed, treating the info on spades as unauthorised – I’d just tried to show a good hand when I bid. LHO dbl’d (why??) And 13 tricks rolled in; I apologised which was grudgingly accepted after they’d checked the convention card.

The hand caused utter chaos. One Souh got dbl’d in 6D and promptly bid 7; west, shocked to this day, didn’t double that. Best for EW was where they bi 6S. Instead of bidding on, south doubled and his partner, with 6 hearts, deduced that he held none so led one. Minus 1660 promptly folloed.



Iain ClimieMarch 26th, 2013 at 12:57 pm

I should have added that West passed the 2H cue bid with his 7 cd spade suit; dbl would surely have been more sensible, even if I hadn’t had a brainstorm. The hand does look like a misfit after all.

bobbywolffMarch 26th, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, sometimes the greatest misunderstandings occur when you or partner turn up with hands completely opposite of what is expected.

It has been perhaps 40+ years since any regular partner and I have had a problem with 4th suit bidding after the opponents have bid 2 suits between which partner has passed. At the two level those bids have always been natural since having unbid suits are much easier to handle and various ways to do it.

Especially since the responder often bids 4 little in a major suit in response to his partner’s opening bid and add to that short clubs or diamonds which are often opened, the overall situation calls for the last player to often possess a very good suit which has already been bid, necessary for you to bid, both to buy the hand, or even just to get that suit led.

At least to me, players who do not play it that way start with a handicap which is hard to overcome, and when it arises, adverse swings can occur.

Your story tended the other way, so be careful of the law of averages should it arise again.

Iain ClimieMarch 26th, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Hi again Bobby,

The odds are against it as I’m not so much of a party animal (or late night lemming) as I used to be and systems agreements with current partners are designed to be “me-proof” for my bad days. I do need to sort the question out with some partnerds though, so thanks for the reminder and guidance.


ClarksburgMarch 26th, 2013 at 7:24 pm

“…..sort the question out with some partnerds… ”
Partnerds eh? Another keeper. Thanks.

Iain ClimieMarch 26th, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Hi Clarksburg,
It was an accident but my local club gleefully adopted it too. Glad you like it and at least one of us was awake!