Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 13th, 2017

All you’re supposed to do is every once in a while give the boys a little tea and sympathy.

Robert Anderson

S North
E-W ♠ K Q 10 7 3
 A K 3
 A Q 7
♣ J 5
West East
♠ 6 5
 J 9 5
 J 9 4 2
♣ 10 9 8 6
♠ J 9 8 2
 10 8 4
 6 3
♣ 7 4 3 2
♠ A 4
 Q 7 6 2
 K 10 8 5
♣ A K Q
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass
2 NT Pass 4 ♣* Pass
4 ♠ Pass 7 NT All pass



At the table, I may not be good at extending sympathy to my partner, but at least I avoid open criticism. Had I been North here, I doubt I would have been able to offer condolences convincingly.

That player took only a slightly optimistic approach when he drove to the grand slam, reasonably confident that either diamonds or spades would run for declarer.

When West led the club 10, declarer could see 12 certain winners and had three suits where a 13th might materialize. Before you look at how play developed, think about how you would approach it.

At trick two, South tested the spades. It was only when East followed to the third round that declarer realized that he did not have a good discard from hand. Since diamonds looked more promising than hearts (because of the chance the jack might fall in two rounds), he let a heart go from hand. When the bad news in spades was combined with the fact that it was West who had diamond length, declarer was out of chances.

What should South have done differently? The key is to play the heart ace-king, cash the remaining clubs (pitching a heart from dummy), then take the heart queen, discarding a spade.

At this point, you can claim when hearts break. But if they had not split, you can decide whether to make the normal play of running spades from the top, or to play diamonds first, depending on what has happened in the other two suits.

On this dramatic auction, you have to assume declarer has a void somewhere (since Blackwood wasn’t used), but you have no sure way to know if declarer fits spades and is gambling with one suit unguarded. The most passive lead is a trump, but against small slams one tends to go active. Here, a heart feels right to me.


♠ 10 3
 K J 9 5
 Q 5 2
♣ 10 8 6 4
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ Pass 2 ♣
Pass 2 ♠ Pass 6 ♣
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