Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 16th, 2016

A few steps back is sometimes needed to find clarity in the confusion.

April Mae Monterrosa

S North
None ♠ J 10 7 3
 A 7
 J 8 5
♣ A K 8 6
West East
♠ 9 5
 K 9 8 3 2
 10 7 3
♣ 5 4 3
♠ 8 6 4 2
 J 10 6
♣ Q J 10 7 2
♠ A K Q
 Q 5 4
 K Q 9 6 4 2
♣ 9
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass
3 Pass 3 Pass
4 ♠ Pass 6 All pass


Reaching six diamonds on this deal from the Lille world championships of 2012 is far from easy, though on a heart lead you would have to run the lead to your queen to survive. Others received a trump lead and spade shift, so had no problems. But let’s say West leads a low club; what next?

It looks natural to get the women and children off the street as fast as possible. To protect against 4-0 trump breaks, you need to lead towards the diamond king-queen rather than starting with the diamond jack. When East wins and shifts to a heart, you suddenly have a problem.

Did you notice that a heart shift was going to jeopardize your entries? (Don’t worry if you didn’t — there was nothing you could have done to avoid this). You might as well put up the heart queen now more in hope than expectation — you won’t get any value out of your queen, if you don’t.

When West covers, you take your heart ace and play a trump to the queen. Had trumps split 2-2, you would have been home free, but as it is you need to unblock spades before drawing the last trump.

By cashing only two spades you have left the suit temporarily blocked. But now comes the point of the deal: after drawing the last trump, you pitch your remaining spade honor on the club king and have unscrambled the blockage. You now have two homes for your heart losers, one on the spade jack and on the spade 10.

Your partner’s double shows the unbid suit, hearts, and values. Even though everybody is bidding, it feels right to cuebid two spades, looking for a redsuit game. If you jumped to three hearts directly, that would sound like four trumps. Delayed support for hearts ought therefore to suggest three trump and a good hand.


♠ A K Q
 Q 5 4
 K Q 9 6 4 2
♣ 9
South West North East
      1 ♣
1 1 ♠ Dbl. 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


jim2September 30th, 2016 at 12:42 pm

6S — somewhere, Moyse is smiling.

Peter PengSeptember 30th, 2016 at 2:07 pm

must cash the KQ of S, save the A for the most pleasurable discard and unblock

Bobby WolffSeptember 30th, 2016 at 2:48 pm

Hi Jim2 & Peter,

Between the two of you, nostalgia, in the form of remembering Sonny Moyse (and his positive views regarding 4-3 fits) fills the air and nothing but flair and style signifies Peter’s suggestion of throwing away blocking aces, instead of mere kings or queens in order to beard this bridge lion.

However, Sonny must really be smiling, when he realizes that one spade by South (only a three card major, but the best one possible) is needed to get the play from the right side, since the heart jack lead from East apparently scuttles that venture.

Oh, what might have been, if Sonny would have remained alive. Perhaps the popular four card major systems of those long ago days would have been replaced by three card ones instead of requiring five.

Perhaps trading more conservative (and popular comfort) for daring do would have emerged with this hand being a great example.

Thank you Jim2 for your reminisces and Peter for his swashbuckling.

BobliptonSeptember 30th, 2016 at 3:25 pm

Ahem. If we’re proposing alternate contracts, what’s wrong with 6NT from the south? 5 diamonds, 4 spades, 1 heart and two clubs?


Bobby WolffSeptember 30th, 2016 at 5:55 pm

Hi Bob,


The only danger in sight is someone (almost any bridge player) calling us result merchants, and, of course, neither one of us is one of them. (or are we?)

For all those wannabe students, South being the declarer by all bridge columnists is often
quite an advantage if the writer wants to favor him. Like everything else in today’s society it is not about talent, it is about who one knows.