Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

A mortal singer dreamed a dream.
Fixed he not Fancy’s habitation,
Nor set in bonds Imagination.

Anna Wickham

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


In today's deal North's well-positioned aces sitting over the opposing bidder, plus his superior spot-cards and his mild spade-fit gave him just enough to raise two spades to three. Now South has enough to accept the game-try.

Against four spades, West will lead the diamond king and ace, then play his low diamond for East to trump with the spade two.

When East leads back the club six at trick four, South must win the club ace, then take a spade finesse, simultaneously finding the good and bad news. When he has digested the potential problems of the deal, he has two possible winning plays. Either he must lead the heart five or nine and immediately finesse dummy’s 10, or he can lead the heart king to dummy’s ace, in either case building himself the critical extra entry to dummy.

The point is that when West shows out of spades, South should know he needs three further entries to dummy: two to finesse spades, and one to reach the good diamond (after trumps are drawn) for a club discard. The only possible entries are in hearts, so West must be played for the heart jack. Three entries can be maneuvered — but not if South starts by leading a low heart to a high honor in dummy. If South does that, West can then defeat the contract by playing the heart jack when South leads low on the second round.

The simple raise of an opening bid should go up to 10 points. But with the right 10-count, you may opt to treat your hand as a balanced limit-raise. Is this hand good enough? Not in my book. The balanced shape and weak trumps argue for caution, despite decent intermediates and two aces. Plus-scores are good; let partner decide if he wants to go past the two-level.


♠ 8 7 6
 A Q 10
 10 8 7 5
♣ A 8 7
South West North East
1♠ 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


jim2December 7th, 2013 at 6:43 pm

In Upper Slobovia, failing to open one notrump holding 15 – 17 HCP with honors in all suits and no singletons is cultural sacrilege. So when this hand was dealt at the Nationals there, even though the vulnerability did not daunt all Wests into silence, the contract was still inevitably three notrump.

Everywhere else in the room, red leads gave declarer the additional tempo needed to develop one or two diamond tricks. I, of course, got the apparently-friendly-but-actually-not jack of clubs lead.

The only consolation I got out of the deal was that if I had scored ten tricks at four spades rather than the nine I did at three notrump, my score would have been the same zero.

Michael BeyroutiDecember 7th, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Re: Greg Nowak: the comment you made yesterday.
Yes, the French do use the term: Manoeuvre de Guillemard and it refers to the card play technique you described. It can be Googled and you will find several websites that talk about it including the french Wikipedia.
In French, we don’t pronounce the d at the end of a word – unless it is followed be e – which is not the case here. Your Polish friend must have had a bad french accent…
Jim2: You mean all the other E/W pairs were in 5C doubled down 2?

jim2December 7th, 2013 at 10:19 pm

No, all the N/S defending 5C doubled scored +800 (or more), thus beating my puny +400 by even a wider margin than one or two notrump overtricks.

I think the defense always gets three or more hearts, the AC, and any diamond ruff lets the QC score. (Use a diamond ruff to lead trumps and even getting it right lets North lead a fourth diamond to the QC.)