Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

The only thing more intimidating than a huge international film star is your mother-in-law.

Benjamin Walker

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



Today’s deal comes from the U.S. Nationals last fall and demonstrates that players from all over the world make these events the toughest of contests. Here, for example, we see Peter Gill of Australia trying to bring home a delicate contract of three no-trump from a team game.

Yes, North’s bidding looks a trifle forward, but we’ve all been in worse games. West leads the club five to the jack and ace, and when East returns the seven, he covers with the 10, allowing declarer to win the queen in dummy.

Clubs are clearly 5-3, so if the defenders obtain the lead in a side suit, they can cash their clubs and defeat you. After winning the second club, you must try to run the diamonds; the good news is that the suit breaks 2-2.

On the run of the diamonds, West pitches one heart and two spades, and East three spades. What should you do next?

At the table, Gill worked out that West had reduced down to three hearts and three clubs. If West had pitched a club, declarer would have set up a spade winner for his side. So declarer now exited with a low club. West could cash his clubs, but then had to lead a heart. The auction would have favored playing for split honors in the heart suit if West had shifted to the heart queen or heart jack. However, when West led a low heart, declarer was home without a guess. He ended with three hearts, five diamonds and one club trick.

Your partner’s four-club call was a splinter, showing short clubs and a raise to at least four spades. Over your four-heart cuebid, he indicated he had nothing more to show, but even in the context of having made one effort, three key honors make the hand too good to pass. A general try of five spades feels right now, though you are expressing great trust in the soundness of your partner’s bidding.


♠ K Q 6 5
 A 9 6
 9 7 4 3
♣ 9 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 Pass
1 ♠ Pass 4 ♣ Pass
4 Pass 4 ♠ 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