Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 16th, 2013

Something will come of this. I hope it mayn't be human gore.

Charles Dickens

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


This week's deals all come from the Asia Pacific Bridge Federation tournament held this time last year in Fukuoka, Japan.

The board came up in the pairs game, and I thought the result somewhat surprising when I saw the scores from all around the room. If you had the South cards and your partner opened the bidding, would you let him out below slam? I wouldn’t — especially if I found we had all the aces. But today, six no-trump on an unlikely diamond lead is horrible (it makes only if you duck the diamond and play for a diamond-spade squeeze). What is more, even on normal defense you are likely to come down to needing spades to break evenly. But who wants to rely on a 3-3 split — for which the chances are scarcely better than one in three?

David Hoffman of Australia did far better when he played six hearts instead. He won the club lead, drew all the trumps at once, then exploited the diamond spots by leading the diamond 10 to dummy’s ace, ran the diamond jack, then regained the lead and passed the diamond nine to establish the diamond eight. That line is well over a 75 percent chance — if West can bring himself to duck the diamond 10 smoothly when he holds both honors.

Of course, with spades 3-3, you’d expect more than a few pairs to get to that slam and make it. But not so. Bringing in 980 turned out to be a 75 percent board.

You appear to have three reasonable choices: lead a heart and hope to set up the suit sooner (or, more likely, later). Or you can lead a passive spade through dummy's holding, or try for gold by finding partner with a decent diamond suit. There is little to choose from between these approaches, but I think leading a heart needs the least from partner, despite his failure to raise you.


♠ 6 3
 K 10 8 5 2
 J 7 6
♣ A 9 5
South West North East
Pass 1♣
1 Dbl. Pass 1 NT
Pass 3 NT 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