Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 23rd, 2019

Say first, of God above or man below, What can we reason, but from what we know?

Alexander Pope

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


*Three spades


The McConnell Cup for women’s teams was held in Orlando last September. In the finals of that event, both Souths arrived in four spades.

In the open room, West took the heart nine in hand to try a small spade to the jack, which held the trick. When declarer led the spade king, East rose with the ace and pushed the club nine through. Declarer played small, and East continued the suit, forcing declarer to ruff in dummy. A small diamond to the queen in hand was followed by the trump queen, but declarer still had a trump and a club to lose, for one off.

In the closed room, the same contract was reached, and on the same lead, but on the auction shown here. Karen McCallum won with the king and played a trump to the king, which held. But now she played three rounds of diamonds, and though East could ruff the third round, declarer was in full control.

East switched to the club nine, covered by the king and won by West‘s ace. The club continuation was ruffed in dummy, and declarer continued with diamonds, leaving East no counter. When she ruffed in, declarer over-ruffed and trumped her club loser in dummy, losing just the trump ace.

McCallum reasoned that after West’s double and East’s twoheart bid, hearts appeared to be 4-4 and East had more hearts than clubs. If so, West had to have six clubs and thus probably a singleton spade. This produced a well-earned 10 IMPs to Team Baker, the eventual winners of the gold medal.

Partner has probably opened light in third chair, and you have enough in terms of high cards to expect to gain the lead again. It is therefore more than reasonable to lead your own long suit in preference to a singleton in partner’s. You will need to ready your apologies if you turn out to be wrong, though!


♠ 5
 10 9 6
 K 8 7 6 2
♣ K 9 8 7
South West North East
Pass Pass 1 ♠ 1 NT
Pass 3 NT All 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


JohnOctober 7th, 2019 at 11:07 pm

What if South bid 3NT….which would seem an easier contract than 4 spades.

Iain ClimieOctober 8th, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Hi John,

All depends if West can somehow not lead a club, and whether the defence don’t mess up their discards on the avalanche of diamonds after (say) a heart lead. If West comes down to CAQJ10 alone, for example, and east gets the lead, West could find himself endplayed to give South a club trick.