Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

A smattering of everything and a knowledge of nothing.

Charles Dickens

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


When you have a combined eight-card holding in a suit, the missing five cards will split 3-2 some two-thirds of the time. But they will split 4-1 a little over a quarter of the time. The second declarer in today’s deal allowed for this possibility, while the first did not — and the results were about what you would expect.

In each room, South ended in the routine spade game after opening two no-trump and going through Stayman. At both tables, South took the lead of the diamond king. After this, the play diverged.

The first declarer immediately did what I suspect at least half of my readers might do — if they hadn’t been warned that there was a trap! He drew all the opponents’ trumps, ending in North. Then he ran the club 10, and when that held, he continued by finessing the jack. But the 4-1 break meant there was no chance for a further finesse, because the second club had to be won in hand. So he had to lose a club trick eventually, and his chance to make the contract had vanished.

The second declarer saw that the club finesse was inevitable. He was aware of the possibility of a 4-1 club break and the club suit becoming blocked, so he carefully led dummy’s club five to the jack at trick two, which held the trick. Only then did he extract all of the defensive trumps, ending in dummy.

His next move was to play the club 10 from dummy and let it run. When this held, he could finesse the club queen and claim.

The only way to show a good hand here is to start with a double. Your plan will be to rebid in no-trump at your next turn, and the question is whether a simple bid (showing more than a strong no-trump) will suffice. Given that your club honors should be pulling extra weight, you might consider jumping to two no-trump over a red-suit call from your partner.


♠ A K Q 9
 A 2
 10 6 4
♣ A Q J 3
South West North East
  Pass Pass 1 ♣

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


bobbywolffSeptember 3rd, 2019 at 5:49 pm

Hi everyone,

The hand today, being simple enough, becomes the poster boy for what is often called “technique”.

Then to further define that often overused term is one to which the order of plays in mostly declarer’s play, but sometimes can be extended to defense and even overall bidding plans (not just the first bid), are designed for providing the best (and sometimes only) way of choosing the order of necessary plays to give oneself the best percentage way (sometimes theoretical and yes, sometimes subjective, but always considering the bidding and play up to then) to land the contract.

Most all, if not 100%, of all very good players, even short of world class, are flawless, or extremely close, in their execution.

Should much valuable time be spent on acquiring that skill you may ask? Definitely, for without achieving it, one has no real hope of reaching the above described laudatory goal , and is only one of the several necessary steps to perfect.

Patrick CheuSeptember 3rd, 2019 at 8:09 pm

Hi Bobby,Could you please suggest a plausible bidding sequence for this hand at pairs: north Void KQ73 AKQ87 Q73 and south K98 A4 JT95 AKT4. Our bidding went North 1D South 2C(9+)- 4C(16+)-6D passed out.A few reach 6N(north!) and south making.Few in 6D.Some in games.How does one get to 7D(if not playing 2 over 1)? Regards~Patrick.

bobbywolffSeptember 4th, 2019 at 1:50 am

Hi Patrick,

Assuming North has a 4th small club to complete his 13, I will suggest the following NS sequence to the best contract of 7 diamonds.

North South
1 diamond 2 clubs
3 spades* 4 diamonds (support)
4 spades** 5 hearts
5NT 7 diamonds

* spade shortness
** spade void

South, when holding both the AK of clubs and
then hearing North make a grand slam try of 5NT, rather than 6 of a minor should then be sure that North has extremely solid diamonds to offer 5NT.

Yes, there is some subjectivity in accurate slam bidding, but both partners then need to be alert to each others specific bidding with consistency the most important quality.

IOW, a relaxation of that consistency, even one time, can be very harmful to the future of that partnership, since both partners should be duty bound to be precise and make every effort to keep the porridge neither too hot nor too cold.

Obviously, if that 13th card for North is anything else, the entire bidding sequence will be different. Here it is possible for NS to choose the 4-4 club fit instead of the 5-4 diamond fit in order to provide a possible critical discard in diamonds for the 13th trick. Here South should choose diamonds since he is unlikely, but possible to need that possible discard, and if he doesn’t, then a 4-1 club break will not defeat the virtual laydown diamond grand slam.

Good luck, but you can see the dedication needed when playing high level bridge and getting to a small slam was a good enough result

Patrick CheuSeptember 4th, 2019 at 6:28 am

Hi Bobby,Yes North did have void KQ73 AKQ87 Q753.Four diamonds was the key bid as I would be worried that pard might construe this to be A or KD cue,though not on this hand.Having said that could 4D by South be A or KD cue? Or is it you would rather play it as setting the diamond suit?

Patrick CheuSeptember 5th, 2019 at 6:23 am

Hi Bobby,Thanks again for your helpful thoughts on slam bidding as regards the hand in question. Best Regards~Patrick.