Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 30th, 2017

Brahms’ Variations are better than mine, but mine were written before his.

Franz Liszt

W North
Both ♠ A 4 3
 A 7
 A Q 9 3
♣ A 8 4 3
West East
♠ 5
 K Q J 9 8
   6 4 2
♣ J 10 7 2
♠ 9 8 2
 10 5
 K 10 8 6 2
♣ Q 9 5
♠ K Q J 10 7 6
 J 7 5 4
♣ K 6
South West North East
  4 Dbl. Pass
5 ♠ Pass 6 ♠ Pass
Pass Dbl. All pass  


20 years ago this charming deal cropped up in the Cavendish Teams. I have not seen a position since then, with three such different possibilities from the diamond suit.

You declare six spades, and receive the lead of a top heart. You win the ace, ruff a heart, draw trump in three rounds, and now have to tackle the diamonds.

When you lead a diamond towards the dummy you plan to insert the queen if West follows. If it holds, you have a sure-trick line available: you cross back to hand, to lead a diamond to dummy’s nine.

So what happens if West follows to the first diamond, and the queen loses to the king? Then you regain the lead and play off three rounds of clubs, ruffing the third in hand, and run the trumps to squeeze East in the minors should the diamonds do not split.

The actual lie of the cards is more interesting. When West shows out, East is marked with eight cards in spades and diamonds. You cannot make the contract if he has three hearts so you should play West to guard the fourth round of clubs.

The winning line is elegant: win the diamond ace, play off three rounds of clubs, and ruff in hand, then run the trumps to reduce to a three-card ending, after two rounds of hearts, three clubs and five rounds of spades.

In this position North, East and South will all have three diamonds left. Now a diamond to the queen forces East to win, and lead up to the diamond nine.

In this auction three of a new minor (unless you are playing the Wolff Signoff) asks whether you have three-card support for responder’s major. Since you do, bid three spades. If you have four cards in hearts you can show it first, en route to raising spades, but since you don’t, simply bid three spades now.


♠ A 4 3
 A 7
 A Q 9 3
♣ A 8 4 3
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass
2 NT Pass 3 ♣ 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