Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 26th, 2018

How many things we held yesterday as articles of faith which today we tell as fables.

Michel de Montaigne

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


This column has recently reported back on the exploits of Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the Ursine Bridge Club. Today’s deal saw Goldilocks toiling over the repair of a broken chair at home, when the Bears returned from their foray into duplicate. It didn’t take long before Papa Bear prepared to regale her with his performance on this challenging deal.

On the auction shown, Papa had reached six no-trump, a contract that appears to depend on the play in the heart suit. When asked what line he had followed, Papa revealed that he had cashed the king and led up to dummy. When only small cards appeared, he worked out that the only doubleton that would help him was the doubleton nine in East, so he put up the 10 and lived happily ever after.

“You were lucky,” remarked Mama Bear bitterly. “I also played six no-trump and won the spade lead to play a heart toward my king. When East put up the nine, I now had the losing option of playing East for a doubleton jack-nine or queen-nine. I misguessed and went down a trick.”

Baby Bear had seemed close to exploding but was finally allowed to get a word in edgewise. “I didn’t have to guess hearts,” he remarked. When asked to explain, he said that his partner as South had bid four spades over four diamonds, agreeing diamonds, and that led to a contract of seven diamonds. Even after a trump lead, it was easy to ruff out the hearts and take 13 tricks without any problems.

The jump to four clubs is not Gerber but a splinter, setting diamonds as trump and showing short clubs. You cannot use Blackwood since you might need to find a heart control to make a small or grand slam, but you can temporize with four diamonds and hope to hear your partner show a heart control.


♠ Q
 A 10 8 7 5
 A K 10 9 4
♣ 7 3
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass
2 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


A V Ramana RaoFebruary 9th, 2018 at 11:16 am

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
As the cards lay ( perhaps you can give west nine of hearts in exchange of a low card) , south can close his eyes and play like Mrs Guggenheim. Win the spade lead in dummy, cash five rounds of diamonds discarding clubs, come to hand with K of hearts and lead both spade winners and as west cannot afford to bare his club K , throw him in wth heart for two club tricks

A V Ramana RaoFebruary 9th, 2018 at 11:19 am

Please read ” you can even give him ” instead of ” you can give him”

bobbywolffFebruary 9th, 2018 at 11:49 am


Aye! Yes, there are several other ways to make this slippery small slam with the only obstacle, needing X-Ray vision to penetrate the backs of the cards West holds (or for that matter, only to see East’s ducats, would be enough). Of course, the art of this hand, (and the reason it is featured), is to exhibit the sly play of the nine of hearts, which is necessary to give the declarer a losing option.

Also, why North would prefer 4 hearts on the way to 6NT will forever be a mystery. Of course, often a responder will show a false preference for a suit (usually a major), but that is almost always for game purposes in taking the short route to need a lesser number of tricks. However with the sequence this hand produced, it is almost criminal, at least to me, that South (Papa) showed a 4 heart preference, rather than some kind of significant support for his partner’s rebid diamonds.

Sometimes, particularly so in adept slam bidding, one small mistake creates a giant disaster. To me, preferring 4 hearts, could never be thought of as only small. Both misdirected and crucial (a dangerous combination).

Afterward, perhaps Papa will say, “I was only cue bidding a control, not showing a preference” to which his partner might justifiably challenge, “Your statement does not BEAR credibility”.

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