Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, October 12th, 2013

Think? Why think! We have computers to do that for us.

Jean Rostand

East North
Neither ♠ A 7 6
 A 8 6 4 2
 J 10 4
♣ J 2
West East
♠ 10
 9 8 5
♣ Q 10 9 8 7 6 4 3
♠ 9 8 5 4 3 2
 10 5
 K Q 6 3
♣ 5
♠ K Q J
 K Q J 9 3
 A 7 2
♣ A K
South West North East
Dbl. 3♣ 4 Pass
4 NT Pass 5 Pass
5 NT Pass 6♣ Pass
6 NT All pass    


Here is another example of how well computers can play, given the right circumstances. The computer known as GIB can generally find the best line when it understands the constraints imposed by the bidding.

Today’s deal comes from Deauville, in 1996. Herve Mouiel won the prize for the best-played hand here, declaring six no-trump on a spade lead. So how do you make two diamond tricks in your slam? You can play for a stiff honor somewhere, or a doubleton honor in either hand, but you may well have to guess which defender to play for shortage.

The chances of a 5-2 diamond break did not seem especially good, with both opponents having shown a long suit, so Mouiel played East for both diamond honors. Since he had opened a weak two with such a feeble suit, he rated to have some side-values. Mouiel cashed two spades, then all five hearts and both his clubs.

At this point dummy was left with a small spade and three diamonds, South had the master spade and three diamonds. West was irrelevant, and East had to come down to king-queen-third of diamonds and thus just one spade.

Now declarer played the spade king, stripping East of all but his three diamonds, and next led a diamond to the 10 to endplay him. Nicely done! At the other table, the French defender found the devastating lead of the diamond nine. GIB duplicated Mouiel’s line, but no one gave it a prize.

There is no point in trying to thread the needle by trying to stay out of game here. Your aces and fifth trump coupled with your builders in diamonds make this hand too good for an invitation. It is worth a straightforward jump to game.


♠ A 7 6
 A 8 6 4 2
 J 10 4
♣ J 2
South West North East
1 Pass
1 Pass 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


David WarheitOctober 26th, 2013 at 9:43 am

There is a misprint: you say the opening lead is S10, but the diagram shows H3. I wonder if Mouiel was also given the boogie award for worst-bid hand. If E has but 3 clubs, nothing avails. 6H is not a good contract, but how unlucky can you be to find partner with exactly the same distribution as yourself? 6H only requires one opponent to hold both the K & Q of diamonds. It also requires not getting the lead of the D9, but if the D6 is exchanged for either the D4 or 2, even that doesn’t work for the defense.

Bobby WolffOctober 26th, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Hi David,

Yes, the opening lead as printed in the diagram is obviously incorrect and, according to our reports was the 10 of spades. How these confusing glitches occur are beyond me, since they are correct when they leave our auspices, but we are definitely responsible for it and surely I am truly sorry for that.

You are also, of course, correct in how unlucky the declarer was in finding no ruffing values in either hand (mirror distribution) not allowing an extra trump trick to be gleaned, but after all, if that were not so, this hand would never have been selected for any kind of reward, since it would have been so automatic to play it.

Herve Mouiel was a great very ethical French player, who has since died, but was on a couple of super French teams who I lost to on several occasions and always because his team outplayed mine.

Thanks for writing and again apologies for our gaffe.