Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 10th, 2019

As distrust, in some sense, is the mother of safety, so security is the gate of danger. A man had need to fear this most of all, that he fears not at all.

Thomas Brooks

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


When West pre-empts to three diamonds over the strong no-trump, it may inspire North to contemplate exploring for slam. But his four-diamond cue-bid in support of hearts leaves South cold, and North wisely subsides in game — which may yet prove uncomfortably high if South does not take the proper precautions.

After the lead of the club eight, South plays low from dummy and takes East’s 10 with his king. He plays back the diamond queen for West to capture and return a second club, won by dummy’s ace.

Now the only real danger to the contract is losing two trump tricks; to guard against that, South leads the heart jack from dummy, covered all around, then goes to the spade ace and finesses in trump by running the seven if East plays low. If the finesse should lose to the nine or 10 in West’s hand, then trumps will have broken 3-2, and declarer will be able to get back in soon enough to draw the last trump. Should East split his intermediates on the second round of trumps, declarer has complete control. He can simply give up a club trick and play on trumps, to knock out East’s winner and eventually to draw his last trump.

If the defenders lead and continue diamonds at every turn, conceding a ruff-sluff in the process, declarer should be able to take six tricks in the plain suits and maneuver to take three trump tricks in one hand and a ruff in the other. Again, though, declarer must start trumps by leading the jack initially.

Your controls argue for bidding on past four spades, even though you don’t have much “stuffing” in your suits. I would bid five clubs now to cue-bid my ace, and let partner take it from there. As a general rule, the hand with the aces and spaces shouldn’t use Blackwood, since the response won’t be helpful.


♠ A K 5 4
 J 7 6 2
♣ A J 7 5
South West North East
    1 ♠ 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Mircea1January 24th, 2019 at 5:35 pm

Hi Bobby,

What if West started with:

10 9 5 4
A J 9 8 7 5 3
8 3

Ken MooreJanuary 24th, 2019 at 5:37 pm


On BWTA, why not cue bid the Ace of Spades? I do see a rebid issue – how do I show the Ace of Clubs? Is there any way to show both.

Also, from the bidding, what would you expect partner to hold?

PaulJanuary 24th, 2019 at 5:54 pm

Hi Bobby,
A related question is that if you do bid 5c and partner has a two suiter in spades and clubs how does he go about searching for gs. Or does the the 5c cue bid preclude any grand slam ambitions .
Regards paul

Bobby WolffJanuary 24th, 2019 at 8:46 pm

Hi Mircea1,

All any declarer can do is play the hand to best
advantage, always remembering the exact bidding, the play up to then, including the opening lead, and, if topical, any unusual tempo changes, which could result in more knowledge.

At least to me, leading a small doubleton, with 4 trump to the 109 and a side void would never be done by any experienced player. Methinks the ace of diamonds is the only possible lead from the hand you mention.

However, when playing against unknown and possibly inexperienced opponents, anything may be possible and I do not doubt, at times, for that to be more fun than real bridge.

While not intending the above as insulting to the opening leader, I would basically rule out such a holding and all I can do is expect, on the bidding, to likely expect the length in trumps to be held by RHO.

Bobby WolffJanuary 24th, 2019 at 8:52 pm

Hi Ken,

Of course, rebidding 4 spades would merely be a sign-off, since NS are committed to a spade contract. However and coincidentally, perhaps signing off is the right choice, since, although controls are held, the absence of a 5 card suit is a minus, since with suit establishment sometimes necessary for twelve tricks this hand will not accommodate that line of play.

IOWs, while 5 clubs is a definite cue bid, 4 spades becomes the sign-off, meaning nothing more to add at this point, but if you, my partner, continues on, I’ll take another look.

Bobby WolffJanuary 24th, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Hi Paul,

No, while the 5 club bid shows a club control, usually 1st round, of the suit bid, plus the overall strength necessary (on the bidding up to then) to consider bidding a slam, not, at this point, looking for a grand slam, but, at the same time, not denying the possibility of later considering one.

Since high level bridge is definitely a two man game, (being rare indeed when one player or the other can make a firm choice) such as asking for aces, which in fact, guarantees that if the partnership is not off more than 1 control (3 or 4 aces or 4 of 5 key cards) depending on whether key card is being played than at least a small slam will be bid.

NEVER use an ace asking convention to get to a slam, but only to stay out of one, if off two keys cards.

Cue bidding is often quite delicate as not only controls are confirmed or denied but strength of the together hands is also suggested.

Good luck!