Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 29th, 2019

Christopher Robin was sitting outside his door, putting on his Big Boots. As soon as he saw the Big Boots, Pooh knew that an Adventure was about to happen, and he brushed the honey off his nose with the back of his paw, and spruced himself up as well as he could, so as to look Ready for Anything.

A.A. Milne

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

*12-14 balanced, or (as here) any
  18 or more


When Poland played England in the World Youth Teams last year, we could watch the match on Bridge Base Online, with David Bird providing the spoken commentary, then the written in the bulletin the next day.

After a strong club and positive response, the English had done well to reach six diamonds — the optimal contract. Many pairs had failed the test and played three no-trump. Would the Poles be able to match that feat? Indeed, they did — and more — on the auction shown.

North got to show a strong hand with his repeated spade calls. When the diamond fit came to light, Mateusz Sobczak drove to a grand slam after finding two aces opposite. Since declarer was dead minimum in high cards and shape, the contract required very careful play, but Piotr Marcinowski was up to the task.

He won the top heart lead in dummy and immediately played three top spades, throwing his club losers. When he continued with a fourth spade, it was disappointing that it was East who produced the jack. Declarer followed the odds when he ruffed with the diamond 10, and he was relieved that West could not over-ruff.

Declarer now played the heart ace, diamond ace and club ace, ruffing the club jack with the diamond nine. It remained only to draw trumps and claim the established long spade for his 13th trick. The grand slam may have been against the odds, but the bidding had been spirited, and the play had justified the optimism.

Most doubles facing a passing partner should be take-out, and this is no exception. There is no reason to bid no-trump with a feeble spade stopper and a perfectly good minor suit to bid. Just bid two clubs and see where things go from there.


♠ J 8 7 4
 7 6
 J 3 2
♣ K 8 5 4
South West North East
    1 Pass
Pass 1 ♠ 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


A.V.Ramana RaoSeptember 12th, 2019 at 4:50 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
If declarer places east with spade J , perhaps a simpler play is available . Lead low spade at trick two finessing nine , ruff a heart with Q, come to hand with another spade finesse ( noticing fall of eight from west) ruff another heart with K and play spades top down ruffing fourth round with impunity, draw the last trump and claim . But this is from purely from academic interest point of view only and perhaps if in practise someone adopts this line , it would make the opponents suspicious

A.V.Ramana RaoSeptember 12th, 2019 at 4:56 pm

Please read : lead low diamond at trick two finessing nine and later come to hand with another diamond finesse

A.V.Ramana RaoSeptember 12th, 2019 at 5:06 pm

Also please read : if declarer places east with diamond J in first line ( hazards of a hasty post. Too many drafting mistakes but I can reconcile that diamonds are only a girl’s best friends and do not mind my mixing them with spades ) sorry anyway for the drafting gaffe

bobbywolffSeptember 12th, 2019 at 5:24 pm


Yes, and no doubt, almost laydown, except for, as you said, your opponents wondering how you got the hand records in advance.

Not to say that the above could not have happened legally, only to say, either a great inspired effort, both the defenders not holding their cards high enough, or the above paragraph in operation.

In any event, when and if bridge par contests are being held, it might be doubtful that the winning line would correspond with yours, but then again, my head (like Jim2 at times) would have my head hurting to try and figure out the very best line of play while declaring a diamond grand slam except to say that, while you did not say that the line of play detailed was necessarily your choice, but instead suggested it may make at least some learned bystanders, suspicious.

bobbywolffSeptember 12th, 2019 at 5:32 pm

Hi again AVRR,

While we crossed in the mail, but only with your last post and although both suits mentioned are pointed, the colors are different, making it as clear as black and white or I should say black and red or by so doing would it make me an Indian giver.