Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, June 1st, 2017

An optimist is a guy that has never had that much experience.

Don Marquis

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


Playing two over one, your partner’s sequence shows 18-19 with a doubleton club, and you take an optimistic shot at six clubs. You cover West’s lead of the diamond jack with the queen, but East plays the king, and you win your ace. How do you generate enough tricks from the spades to bring you up to 12 tricks?

You need to take at least three spade tricks, preferably four, without losing the lead. With the odds stacked against, you must identify a distribution that will allow you to get what you need.

Win the first trick, draw trump pitching a heart from dummy, and lead a spade to the queen. When it holds, you have surmounted the first obstacle. Cash the spade ace and ruff a spade. When the king drops, you can cross to the heart ace and cash two more good spades, discarding two of your losers. Had the spade king not fallen, you would have needed to take the heart finesse and ruff out the spades. Then you could have crossed to the heart ace to cash the fifth spade and discard a red-suit loser.

If you take the ruffing finesse in spades instead, by leading to the ace then running the queen, you are limited to a maximum of three spade tricks, even if East holds the king. The defense can cover the queen or jack, so you only get three tricks from the suit, even if everything goes as well as could be hoped. The key to making the slam is to maximize the value of your intermediate spade honors.

While it would be nice if partner had the right hand on which to use Blackwood, how likely is it that he has this hand? Not very, I’d say. Much more likely is that he has the other two suits; in highly competitive auctions this is generally the most practical use for the call. That being so, I would bid five diamonds now.


♠ 5
 8 6 5
 A 6 5
♣ A K 10 7 5 4
South West North East
      1 ♠
2 ♣ 4 ♠ 4 NT 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