Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, June 28th, 2014

The sharp thorn often produces delicate roses.


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


Today's deal shows two expert players handling a delicate grand slam from the Open Teams at Ostend last summer. In the auction shown, South (Per-Erik Austberg) knew his side had all the keycards after the five-no-trump bid, and his solid clubs looked like enough for him to accept the invitation.

Austberg won the heart lead and took two top trumps to test the suit, then cashed the club ace and ruffed a club. Now he ruffed a heart to reach hand to draw the last trump. On this, dummy discarded a diamond, but what should East throw? At the table he chose to discard a heart. Austberg crossed to the diamond ace and ruffed another heart. That left only West guarding the hearts, so when declarer took his two winning clubs, West was squeezed in the red suits.

Declarer had done the best he could, but was there a better defense against the grand? When Petter Tondel declared seven spades, Agnes Snellers as East pitched a small diamond on the third spade. Tondel now carefully played the diamond jack to the ace, felling East’s queen, ruffed a heart, then cashed the two remaining top clubs. East followed suit, but West had to throw a heart and a diamond. Correctly reading East as having the winning heart and club left, declarer triumphantly finessed the diamond eight at trick 12 to make his grand slam.

If declarer does not unblock his diamond jack early, he no longer has the option to finesse in diamonds.

You have no reason for the time being to assume that East is playing games. So ignore your spade suit now and bid two clubs. As the auction progresses, you can reassess the position and think about bidding spades if the opportunity arises.


♠ K 9 8 4 3
 J 4
♣ A K Q 9 3
South West North East
1 Pass 1♠

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


Patrick CheuJuly 12th, 2014 at 10:10 pm

Hi Bobby,re BWTA,wonder how or at what stage of the auction is South able to show that he has five spades and even then would pard believe him? The nine of diamonds in the East hand is a ‘revealing’ discard from Q9.If West has Q10xx or Qxxx of diamonds,declarer would need to run the Jack as the nine could be from 9x or 109. Two ways to play 7S by South, based on East’s discards!regards~Patrick.

Bobby WolffJuly 12th, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Hi Patrick,

It, as usual, is always nice to hear from you.

As a bridge player, we need to be patient and let the auction play itself out. For example if West rebids 2 of a red suit and East then either prefers hearts over 2 diamonds or passes 2 diamonds, it would be wrong (IMO) for South not to “back in” with 2 spades.

Obviously the vulnerability and who the opponents happen to be are important, but my inclination, is when there is a possibility to bid, seize that opportunity. Of course, if partner has raised clubs, it complicates the bidding a little, but more times than not a continuation of 3 spades by the original club overcaller, should be natural, since any other meaning would not fit this type of auction.

Some might argue this point and suggest that 3 spades could be a try for 3NT, but if that is asking for both red suits to be stopped, the logic of high-level bridge takes over to strongly negate that possibility. But, again, even if partner might misinterpret my 3 spade bid and return to clubs or even venture 3NT I would merely rebid my clubs and be done with it.

The rhythm of high-level bridge bidding represents a melody to be learned. Your inquiring mind is a good start.

Switching to the play and the meaning of the nine of diamonds. Beware of good players using falsecards, especially when he is in control to fool you if he can.

Just guess all of these situations correctly and you will have nothing to worry about except having to learn to refuse some bridge dates to the many good players who will be knocking on your door.

Always good bridge luck to you.