Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

I do not know which makes a man more conservative – to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past.

J. M. Keynes

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

Fill in the blank…

All this week’s deals come from the Macallan tournament in London 20 years ago. Underleading an ace on opening lead is not normally a play that is indicated by the bidding. But the better the player, the more often they are prepared to think outside the box. Even so, it is very unusual to find this play made by more than one expert, but this was the exception to the rule.

The North-South pairs bid this hand to game of course; of the three possible games, three no-trump is the best, and heavy favorite to succeed. But only one pair managed to get there. While four spades (attempted after North opened one spade and was obliged to rebid two spades) was fortunate to come home, four hearts has little chance of success after a trump lead, on the lie of the cards today.

However, four of the five defenders on lead to that contract tried a low diamond, and all the declarers misguessed of course. Omar Sharif was able to exploit his lead, when his partner Zia won the diamond queen and accurately shifted to a trump. Declarer won in dummy and played a club; now he could not get out for less than two down.

Where Nicola Smith was declarer she was able to recover after the same start. She took the heart switch in dummy and ran dummy’s diamond nine, discarding a club from hand. She could win the next trump in dummy and ruff out the diamonds, draw trump, and get back to the table with the spade king to run the diamonds.

You may not have much of a hand, but what you have seems to be working for your partner – and you have already showed a poor hand at your first two turns. I’m guessing that if partner wants to bid five of a minor to make or as a sacrifice, you have a good hand for him. I would bid four clubs to let him in on the double fit.


♠ Q 8 6
 10 9
 Q 10 3 2
♣ Q 10 9 2
South West North East
Pass Pass 1 Dbl.
2 2 3 ♣ 3

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


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