Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Paradox has been defined as ‘Truth standing on her head to get attention.’

G.K. Chesterton

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


Bob Hamman’s frequently repeated saying that the best play lousy and the rest play worse may be supported by what might appear to be an absurd series of results here. But some deals are just too challenging for ordinary mortals.

This deal comes from Salt Lake City 15 years ago. Where I was watching, Nicholas Gartaganis for Canada opened three spades as East, and Jacek Pszczola overcalled three no-trump. His partner, Michal Kwiecien, raised to four no-trump, and that ended the auction for plus-460. Nicely bid — but not all the other pairs were so reticent. In fact, the potential for swings was huge, since in all four matches of the playoffs and finals, one table opened the East hand four spades, and South overcalled five diamonds and was raised to six diamonds by North. With two aces to cash, can you guess how many of the four pairs of defenders allowed the slam to make?

Naturally, all four Wests led a spade. While I suppose you could make some sort of case for the club ace, it is just too likely to cost your side the second trick in that suit. All four Easts won their ace and knew that the most likely way to beat the slam was to collect a slow club trick or to cash an ace. If an ace was out, then a heart return now would only let through the contract if declarer had a doubleton ace-queen or ace-jack, along with a singleton club. So all four Easts played back a heart — contract made!

Sometimes you have to close your eyes and guess. Here, my best guess would be to bid slam rather than introducing my suit at the five-level or raising partner to five. I would bid six spades rather than six diamonds, since as little as ace-king-fifth of spades appears to give partner some sort of play in slam.


♠ Q 10 2
 A J
 A K 10 7 6 5 4
♣ 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♠ 5 ♣

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