Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Young men have a passion for regarding their elders as senile.

Henry Brooks Adams

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

*game-forcing with hearts

**three key cards


Today’s deal features two of the people most involved with setting up Senior events as a separate category in international bridge. Goran Mattsson of Germany and the late Doctor Nissan Rand of Israel won the Brighton Summer Congress a few years ago, and this deal certainly helped them.

Rand, who was always an optimist, drove to slam facing three key-cards. Mattsson received the lead of the diamond jack, and inserted dummy’s queen. Now declarer drew two rounds of trump, then continued with a second diamond towards the ace-nine. West put up the 10, and dummy’s ace was played.

South next drew the last trump and cashed the club king and ace, then ran the spade nine to East’s jack. What would you do as East now?

Noting the ace-queen-10 of spades in dummy, East returned a club. Mattsson ruffed in hand and discarded the diamond nine from dummy. Next came the diamond eight, and when West withheld the king – covering would not have helped – declarer let it run. Then South’s last diamond was trumped in dummy, for Mattsson to claim his slam.

Curiously, had East returned a spade instead of a club, one of South’s diamonds would have gone away, but not both, and the slam would have failed. West’s count signals in spades and clubs should have given East the full picture here, but note that even if South started life with three spades and three diamonds, the spade play still sets the hand.

Had East not suggested values, you might have raised to two hearts, but should not do so here. Your hand is all about defense; if your RHO promises decent values with a call at the two-level, then when you raise hearts you should have a decent hand, decent hearts or decent offense. You have none of these, and don’t want to direct a heart lead, so pass. You might reopen over two diamonds, of course.


♠ K J 8 6
 6 4 3
 5 2
♣ Q J 10 2
South West North East
  1 1 2 ♣

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