Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, November 9th, 2017

The only sure thing about luck is that it will change.

Bret Harte

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


The idea of underleading an ace against a slam is one that appeals to the true gambler. The possibility that you might lose the ace if you don’t take it is dangerous enough that, even when the opportunity arises, few players will take advantage of the chance.

However, in Opatija, Croatia, three years ago in the European Championships, Tommy Garvey seized his chance for an underlead during Ireland’s match against Russia in the Open Series.

South had shown a limited hand with clubs and spades and no extra values, then admitted to one key-card in response to Blackwood. The auction had made it clear that North held a diamond control, which in the light of Garvey’s hand was likely to be the king rather than shortage.

If dummy held the king plus the queen, or no secondary honor, underleading the ace could prove very costly, especially if South held a singleton diamond. Also, declarer might subsequently discard a diamond loser on dummy’s hearts. None of this was especially unlikely, since declarer had at least nine cards in the black suits. But if dummy held both the king and jack, the gamble might succeed.

Garvey went for the gusto and led the diamond four to trick one. Although he might have suspected something was afoot, declarer had no reason not to put in the jack. John Carroll produced the queen and returned a diamond to set the slam with the first two tricks. That resulted in a slam swing to Ireland.

I could understand bidding three clubs to preempt the opponents out of the auction, but you actually have a fair chance that this is your hand, not theirs, particularly because you have the boss suit, spades. So I would just overcall two clubs, hoping to get a second chance to describe my hand.


♠ Q 10 4 3
 8 6
♣ A K J 8 3 2
South West North East
    Pass 1

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