Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

I claim not to have controlled events but confess plainly that events have controlled me.

Abraham Lincoln

E North
N-S ♠ Q J
 A K 9 5
 9 4 2
♣ A 6 4 2
West East
♠ K 10 5 3 2
 10 8 3
 K Q 6
♣ J 3
♠ A 9 8 7 6 4
 Q J 7
 10 8 7
♣ 7
♠ —
 6 4 2
 A J 5 3
♣ K Q 10 9 8 5
South West North East
      2 *
Pass 3 Pass 3 ♠
4 ♣ 4 ♠ Dbl. Pass
4 NT Pass 5 ♣ All pass

*weak in hearts or spades


On the first day of the Gold Coast tournament in Brisbane there is a two-session qualifying event. The top 28 pairs go through to an all-play-all final, as do the next 28 pairs, and so on and so forth. It is a very satisfying format, and it always seems to lead to a desperately close finish.

In the second session of the final, only two declarers were successful in five clubs here. One lucky declarer was helped by a top diamond lead, but Hugh McGann received the more neutral spade lead. He ruffed, drew trumps while eliminating spades in the process, then played ace, king and a third heart.

He had now reduced to an ending where he had nothing but minor-suits in his hand, while dummy still had two trumps, three diamonds and a master heart

When East won the third heart he could see that a ruff-sluff could not be right from his side’s perspective, so he chose to shift to a low diamond. When McGann played low from his hand and the queen appeared, he could claim the rest for a shared top.

East should probably have shifted to the diamond 10 – incidentally, a play that would beat the contract by force if he had a three-card holding including a top honor. Declarer must cover the 10 with the jack, and West can win deceptively with the king and return a low diamond.

This gives declarer a guess that he should probably not get wrong, of course. But any guess is better than none.

Although there are worse six-card majors you could hold, I would counsel you not to open a weak two on a suit like this, without intermediates, but headed by only the ace. This is because you might have three or four losers in the suit facing a singleton – and also be able to take ace and a ruff on defense. Your strong heart fragment is also a negative for pre-empting.


♠ A 9 8 7 6 4
 Q J 7
 10 8 7
♣ 7
South West North East

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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact