Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Who can hope to be safe? Who sufficiently cautious?
Guard himself as he may, every moment’s an ambush.


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


Perhaps either North or South should have considered bidding the grand slam here, which looks to be about negotiating the trump queen. And if you fail to do that, you strongly rate to go down in six spades on the predictable diamond lead.

However, the problem today is to focus on the best line to make slam after the diamond lead. As a hint, you need to work out what else might cause you a problem in your slam, other than a bad trump break.

The point of the deal is that after winning the diamond ace and negotiating the singleton trump queen to draw trumps in three rounds, you must focus on the quite real chance of a 4-0 club break. After all, West has three spades and at least six diamonds, doesn’t he?

What you must do next is to cash the heart ace and king, then exit with a diamond. If West wins, the club loser disappears on the forced ruff-and-discard. If East wins and returns the club jack, run it to North’s ace. The next club goes to the nine and queen. Now you must return to the table with the spade six (it was vitally important to keep a trump entry to dummy, by not wasting your spade five at any turn, early on in the deal, or else to make your slam you would have had to guess that East has all four clubs). But if you have kept your entry position intact, you can indeed cross to the spade six and finesse against East’s club 10.

This sequence suggests an invitational hand, with six hearts and a better hand than a two-heart call at this point in the auction would show. Though you have only a 14-count, your heart honors and weak spades (facing likely shortage) make this a clear raise to four hearts.


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


Iain ClimieNovember 29th, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Hi Bobby,

I have a concerIn on BWTA. It is possible that pard has (say) Sx AQ10xxx Kxxx xx or similar when 4H has decent lay (a trump lead may be awkward) but, with such a misfit for both black suits, should partner be bidding 3H or just settling for 2H on what looks like a bad misfit. 4H may well work, but should partner have been bidding 3H if it does?



Bobby WolffNovember 30th, 2014 at 2:08 am

Hi Iain,

Somehow I suspect that partner (the 3 heart bidder) has a club fit making the difference between s. x, h. AQ10xxx. Kx, 109xx as opposed to the reverse holding in the minor suits 2-4 instead of 4-2.

While you may judge quite correctly on his motive, it just seems next to impossible to guess when to sometimes sacrifice a tempo (by leading a trump) in order to prevent ruff(s) by the relatively short trump holding to come down in dummy. It does happen, but guessing if and when is indeed, a difficult task.

However, all that may be both wishful thinking and dead wrong, when partner is very tight fisted in going 2 over 1 and may not do it on s. Ax, h. AQxxxx, d. xxx, c.xx. If so, he and I should be very careful to not tee it up together, since that style is just not for me.