Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Thinking is to me the greatest fatigue in the world.

Sir John Vanbrugh

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


South had a problem trying to decide how high to go here. His partner had signed off at his third turn, but when North showed a spade control by raising four spades to five spades, suggesting the king, South made a grand slam try. When North signed off South accepted his decision. North would surely have accepted the try were his spade jack the queen.

As it was, we have all been in worse grand slams than this, and in consequence South took his eye off the ball after a club lead. He won, drew trump, and laid down the spade ace, uttering an indelicate expletive under his breath when West showed out. There was no longer any way to make the contract, since declarer could not strip off the minors without surrendering control of spades.

In fact six hearts becomes a sure-trick problem, once the opening lead is not ruffed. Can you see how? At trick two, declarer draws trump with the heart ace and king, cashes the diamond ace, and next takes his remaining club winner. Then he makes the crucial play of a spade to the king.

If West had followed suit, declarer could claim his contract, losing just one spade trick at most. When West shows out, South wins the spade king, ruffs dummy’s remaining diamond, then ducks a spade. With the minors stripped out, East must now either lead away from his spade queen or give a ruff-and-discard. Either way, declarer has 12 tricks.

Raise to three clubs, as much to keep the opponents quiet as to make a real try for game. Here the fact that you raise partner’s suit, rather than making a stronger try via a cuebid, should indicate to your partner that you have more of a courtesy raise than a really strong hand.


♠ Q 10 9 7
 K J 10 9 8
♣ Q 8 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♣ 1
Dbl. 1 NT 2 ♣ 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