Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Never be a pioneer. It’s the Early Christian that gets the fattest lion.


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


After North’s opening bid, South’s thoughts will immediately turn toward slam. His plan will be to bid hearts then diamonds. But once his partner raises hearts, showing extras in the process, South can use Blackwood, perhaps expecting to be heading towards a grand slam.

However, somewhat to South’s surprise, North shows only one ace by his response of five diamonds. Once South discovers that an ace is missing he can do nothing but jump to six hearts. This is a call that should end the auction, since North has no reason to overrule his partner. If South were interested in a grand slam, he would go slower.

West’s best chance to defeat the slam on opening lead is his singleton – even though it is in dummy’s first bid suit. If South wins the trick, underestimating the danger, and leads a trump at once, East will take his heart ace and return a club for his partner to ruff.

But there is a way around the problem; the simplest way is for declarer to discard his club on dummy’s spade king. So South unblocks the spade ace, then cashes the diamond ace and ruffs a diamond in order to reach dummy. Declarer is then in position to play off the spade king, discarding the last club from the South hand.

South can now afford to draw trump. When East wins his ace and leads a second round of clubs, South can ruff high and draw the rest of the trump to make his slam.

You should remember that anyone who tells you that there is a serious alternative in standard bidding to raising to two spades should be regarded suspiciously from now on. Yes, you have good clubs, but the raise here does not guarantee four trumps. It suggests four or three and a ruffing value with a minimum opener; perfect for this hand.


♠ K 8 4
 J 9 8 5
♣ A K Q J 5
South West North East
1 ♣ Pass 1 ♠ 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact