Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 21st, 2017

Most people are on the world, not in it – having no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them – undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.

John Muir

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


Today’s deal represents a slight variation of a hand that came up in the quarterfinals of the junior world championships. The Polish team who were spearheaded by Michal Klukowski and Justyna Zmuda won the junior title. (They have been playing regularly for the open and women’s teams respectively, for the last few years). This deal resulted in a big swing for their team.

To focus on the problem look just at the auction, together with the West and North cards. You lead a heart against six diamonds, won in dummy. Declarer now plays the diamond king, which goes to the nine and declarer’s six. Plan the defense. When you have decided, look at the full deal.

If you duck the first trump, what should declarer do? He has two sensible approaches: one is to take the diamond nine at face value and play to ruff out clubs – which would be necessary if both minors break badly. But if declarer does that, then if the cards lie as in the diagram East ruffs the second club, and defeats the slam. If you win the diamond ace, declarer cannot go wrong.

(For the record: in real life the diamond nine was singleton with East holding 4-7-1-1 shape. When the diamond nine appeared, West ducked, and declarer correctly went after clubs at trick three, successfully ruffing out the suit. Had he played a second trump himself, the defense would have played a third trump and forced declarer to guess clubs.)

You could simply lead spades, the suit you have bid and raised, but it feels more important to me to try to get hearts going at once. If playing third and low I would lead the four, if playing fourth highest a high spot may be hard to read, so I would lead the two.


♠ K 10 8 5
 9 6 4 2
 8 5
♣ Q 5 4
South West North East
  1 ♣ Dbl. 1
1 ♠ 2 2 ♠ 3
All 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