Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 12th, 2013

Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

William Wordsworth

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


In the World Championships held last summer in Lille, Patrick Jourdain of Wales reported on the match between the English Seniors (who at that point were undefeated, and had a clear lead in their group) when they met their closest follower, Israel.

At the other table Israel had reached three no-trump. On a diamond lead, given the risk that there might not be time to establish a heart trick (particularly if East could win the first heart to play a second diamond), declarer might well have been tempted into the double club-finesse. However, South chose to play on hearts instead, and with the diamonds 6-2, plus West having no entry, the game came home easily enough.

By contrast, at our featured table, where Gunnar Hallberg and John Holland faced David and Daniela Birman, a simple Stayman auction led to four hearts by South. David Birman led a trump, and Daniela won with the king and switched to the diamond five.

David Birman took the inference first that his partner held the two top trumps, and secondly that had South had a singleton diamond, it would have been right for her either to cash both top trumps before playing the diamond, or to win the first trump lead with the ace. So Birman ducked the diamond with an encouraging card. Now East won the next trump and led a second diamond to the ace and received her overruff to set the game.

When you are dealt a sequence, but partner has overcalled in another suit, you have an awkward choice. Here your diamond length suggests that you may be able to set up more tricks with the heart lead than with the diamond lead. So lead the heart queen, and mentally prepare your apologies if it doesn't work!


♠ 9 5 4
 Q J 10 7
 9 5 3
♣ K 8 5
South West North East
1♣ 1 1♠
Pass 2♠ Pass 4♠
All 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 ClimieAugust 26th, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Hi Bobby,

A maddening hand for NS – if only N had the H9 not the 8 or the diamonds were 5-3 when the other declarer goes off in 3N but 4H makes. I assume that the statement “If South had a singleton diamond” means east, though, or it is a very strange 1N indeed.

I was interested by the idea of playing HA though, suggesting East has one diamond if the cards were like that. A similar approach is often taken when an opening leader reverses their AK routine then switches, but I might not have thought of it here. Just as long as declarer doesn’t play the K so West reads east for 542 in diamonds and presumes a spade is needed….



Iain ClimieAugust 26th, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Sorry, D652, MUDdying the waters!

Bobby WolffAugust 26th, 2013 at 10:10 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, certainly it is East, not South, who on another day might have a singleton diamond, but, if so, logic would dictate for her to do what the column suggested. Of course it might b right for her to switch to spades instead, but holding the QJxx of clubs it looked like partner needed the ace of diamonds and the smarts to hold up. It all worked as planned but not without foresight by West and determination by East.