Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Work is the curse of the drinking class.

Oscar Wilde

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


The North hand is just worth a splinter raise to four diamonds, which shows game-going values with heart support and a singleton diamond. Despite being low on high cards, the fifth trump and two aces just tilt the balance in favor of the aggressive position.

It looks logical for South to ask for aces, then bid five no-trump to check for specific kings. If he heard a six-club response, he could bid the grand slam with confidence; but as it is, the small slam is far from cold.

Still, what might look like a 50 percent slam (if the club finesse works) can become a far better contract with a little care. On an opening top diamond lead, instead of relying on the clubs behaving, try the following line to exploit the possibility that West has all the high diamonds. Win the diamond ace, cash the spade ace, and ruff a spade high. Next, cross to dummy with a high trump to ruff another spade, and ruff the low diamond in dummy. Finally ruff a spade high and lead the diamond nine.

When West produces the 10, you should not ruff the trick. Instead you discard a club from dummy on this trick, leaving West on lead, with a choice of giving you a ruff and discard, or leading a club into your ace-queen. Either way, he has to concede the contract. If East can win the diamond and play a club through, you will fall back on the club finesse.

Partner has shown a very strong hand, and you are suitable for slam, but it looks much better to cue-bid the spade ace and let partner take control, rather than go the other way. When you have aces but no second-round controls, you should not use Blackwood. The response will not help you decide where to play.


♠ A J 4 3
 A J 7 6 3
♣ 7 6 3
South West North East
1♣ 1
1 3 4 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


David WarheitJanuary 29th, 2014 at 11:28 pm

There is another line of play which is very reasonable but doesn’t work. First I should note that you say W leads the DK, but the hand has him leading the S7. I think most people would lead the DK, in which case the suggested line is probably best. Let’s say that the opening lead is a trump. You win, cash the SA, ruff a S, DA, ruff a D, & ruff a S. Note that E follows to the third S with an honor (K or Q). Well, if he started with honor third in S, ruff your last D & lead the SJ, discard a club, W wins and is endplayed. When E unfortunately plays the other S honor, ruff, cash the CA, cross to dummy with a H and lead a club, hoping either that E has the CK or W has the CK singleton or doubleton. When W does not lead DK at trick one, I think this line is the best percentage.

bobby wolffJanuary 29th, 2014 at 11:54 pm

Hi David,

By George, I think your line is very reasonable.

Yes, again the opening lead seems to suggest something differently than when it left our office (many months ago). However, it might magically be corrected, but for the confusion I certainly apologize.

Your type of solution is one that occurs more often than most of us think.

Thanks for your time spent, enlightening us.