Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, June 29th, 2019

In a world where England is finished and dead,
I do not wish to live.

Alice Duer Miller

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


**Any game-forcing hand


When is a sure trump trick not a sure trump trick? Look at this board from England against Finland in last year’s European Championships.

Clas Nyberg declared six diamonds, a slam that would have been defeated on a club lead and any trump break. In fact, even five diamonds would go down as the cards lie. Even after a low heart to East’s ace, East must have felt reasonably good about the deal, looking at his trump holding.

After winning the spade return, Nyberg cashed the diamond ace, unblocked the heart king, went back to dummy with a spade and played the heart queen. If East ruffed low now, declarer would be home free. If East ruffed with the nine or 10, he would still be over-ruffed, and the position would develop into an easy trump coup.

When East did not ruff in, declarer’s club losers went away on the major-suit winners. In the six-card ending (after three spades, three hearts and a diamond), he led a major suit from dummy.

Now what was East to do? When he discarded a club declarer next lead out the club ace and continued with another side-suit card. Down to nothing but trumps, East finally had to split his diamond honors. Declarer overruffed, led a diamond to the queen, and now executed the trump coup.

Note that six diamonds can be defeated if East finds a club switch, as this knocks out the late dummy entry that is required to operate the trump coup. Would you have found it?

It is always worth going over the basics from time to time. This is a penalty double, so pass and await developments. You may not have a great hand, but you never promised your partner a rose garden. There is no such thing as a takeout double facing a pre-empt; the pre-emptor has defined his hand already.


♠ 8 3
 K 2
 K J 8 5 4 2
♣ 8 3 2
South West North East
2 2 ♠ Dbl. 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