Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

He has, indeed, done it very well; but it is a foolish thing well done.

Samuel Johnson

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


It has frequently been said that there are more ways to kill a cat than by drowning it in a saucer of cream. In today's deal, two Wests each found a different devious defense to pose a problem for declarer in three no-trump.

When Neville Eber held the West cards, his opening lead was a diamond against the no-trump game. Geoff Hampson put up dummy’s king, as Bosenberg followed with the eight, strongly suggesting four. Declarer now played a club to the king and Neville calmly dropped the queen under it. He knew declarer was 5-2 in spades and diamonds, and whether he had three or four clubs, he could be sure that the club queen was dead in the water.

The play worked better than he could have hoped. Declarer took the card at face value and elected to go after spades (in other words needing both the spade and heart finesse). He tried to cross to the heart jack and the roof fell in: down three.

But it is well known that there are more ways to kill a cat than by choking it with cream. For example, Migry Campanile was on lead after one no-trump was raised directly to three. She kicked off with a spade — none of this fourth-highest nonsense for her. Michael Barel returned the suit, and now Campanile shifted to a diamond. Declarer ran the spades now, and Campanile had to find two discards. She pitched a heart, then the club 10. Declarer now elected to cross to the heart ace and lead a club to the nine. Oops!

You seem to be too good to pass, but you do not have enough to drive to game. Since new suits would be nonforcing, the simple invitational choices are a two-no-trump call (right on values but potentially wrong-siding no-trump) or a raise to three clubs, which might lead to an awkward 5-2 fit. A cuebid of two spades allows you to pass a three-club call and raise a two-no-trump rebid to three.


♠ A 9 8
 Q 5 4 2
 J 8 6 4
♣ A 5
South West North East
1♣ 1♠
Dbl. Pass 2♣ 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Patrick CheuMay 8th, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Hi Bobby,your comment as regards South’s hand(BWTA),being too good to pass,and hence 2S and if 3C from opener,you pass,and if 2N you raise to 3N.Point being that you are prepared to have a go at game even if opener is 11-12 and 6C plus half a stop in spades,is that correct?Regards-Patrick.

bobby wolffMay 8th, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Hi Patrick,

“Right with Eversharp” used to be an American radio advertising slogan and that is how I would answer your question.

Since only 9 tricks are necessary to make 3NT, but 11, of course, are required by 5 clubs, it seems bridge logic to make such a choice.

Even though some of us want to glamorize our wonderful game, it sometimes only comes down to important numbers, such as above.

And by doing so, would the cue bid, followed by an acceptance of NT a telltale to keep an alert opening leader from leading his suit, the answer is “Who knows?” and furthermore who wants to guess whether or not another lead is superior.

For the umpteenth time, bridge is NOT an exact science, but rather a combination of knowledge, judgment, experience and LUCK!

I, for one, love your attitude toward learning and will have no problem predicting that someone, who has your inquiring mind and obvious numerical insight, can reach great heights, provided of course, that you have the time and the continued facility to be properly mentored.

Good luck in whatever direction your life takes you.

Patrick CheuMay 8th, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Hi Bobby,thanks for your kind words which raises one’s morale,and your sense of humour which takes bridge to another dimension.Very Best Regards-Patrick.