Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, December 22nd, 2018

But lest some unlucky event should happen unfavorable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.

George Washington

W North
Both ♠ J 8 7 6
 A Q 9 6 5
 10 6
♣ 10 4
West East
♠ Q 10 5
 K 8 3 2
 5 3
♣ K 8 5 3
♠ A K 9 4 3 2
 10 7 4
♣ A 9 6
♠ —
 A K Q J 9 8 7 2
♣ Q J 7 2
South West North East
  Pass Pass 1 ♠
5 All pass    


Today’s deal from the 2009 European Open Championships saw some very unlucky players — some from virtue unrewarded, some suffering a far worse fate.

How should you play five diamonds when West leads spades, his partner’s suit? Matthew Granovetter found an intriguing line to improve on his simple chances in the club suit. He ruffed the opening lead, crossed to the heart ace and led a low club from the dummy. This line would work if East had a singleton trump, whether he had one or both club honors. When West captured the club queen with his king, he shifted to trumps, but Granovetter saw his plan through and won in hand to lead a second club. Since East had no second trump to lead, declarer was home.

Good news? Alas, no! In the other room, South declared five diamonds doubled. Declarer played a low club from hand at trick two, and East and West each led trumps at their earliest opportunity. Declarer had to fall back eventually on the heart finesse — and it worked.

It was possible to be unluckier still, though. A multiple world champion in five diamonds won the spade lead and led the heart jack from hand. When West ducked smoothly, declarer put up the ace and ruffed a heart, led a club to the 10 and ace, won the trump return in dummy and ruffed a heart, then led a second club. West took the trick and played a second trump, and declarer was dead.

“Bad luck — your finesse worked!” was his unfeeling teammates’ reaction.

This hand feels like it will play better in hearts than in no-trump. Your partner is relatively unlikely to have a singleton heart here — for the record, that inference would not be so clear if your initial response were one spade, since partner’s rebid would be more cramped. I would therefore rebid two hearts now.


♠ J 8 7 6
 A Q 9 6 5
 10 6
♣ 10 4
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 Pass 1 NT 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


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