Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 19th, 2013

For undemocratic reasons and for motives not of State,
They arrive at their conclusions — largely inarticulate.

Rudyard Kipling

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


The objective in today's deal from the Asia Pacific games last summer is to reach three no-trump and avoid a spade lead. In the other room the pair for Pan-China did their best when North opened a weak no-trump and was raised to game. However, East did extremely well to lead the spade nine.

Declarer won the ace and finessed in hearts. East won and cleared spades, after which declarer had no chance. Had declarer ducked in dummy at trick one, West would also have had to duck while encouraging, in order to set the game.

In our other, featured, room, West led a fourth-highest spade against three no-trump, but no doubt the two-spade call by South had persuaded East that his partner could not hold a five-card suit. Accordingly, when declarer won the spade queen and led a diamond, East ducked. Declarer won his diamond queen and took a heart finesse. East correctly won the first heart and cleared spades, but declarer could run the hearts and take the club finesse for his ninth trick.

At yet a third table North-South reached five diamonds on a spade lead. Declarer won the queen and led a trump to hand, a heart to the queen, which held, and now, quite reasonably, instead of taking the club finesse, he played a second trump to hand and repeated the heart finesse. Disaster! East, Gan Xinli, won his heart king, cashed the diamond ace, and cut loose with a spade, leaving declarer with three eventual club losers. Nicely defended!

There is much to be said for playing bids of either two clubs or two hearts as natural here. With a two-suited hand, double or bid two no-trump, or even bid one no-trump as a passed hand, since you can't be strong and balanced. But even if two hearts is natural here, you need more offense than a balanced 5-3-3-2 pattern. So pass, and maybe back in on the next round if appropriate.


♠ Q J 4
 A Q J 10 4
 K 7 6
♣ 9 4
South West North East
1♣ 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieOctober 3rd, 2013 at 9:36 am

Hi Bobby,

Would west at the 2nd table really be leading from K10xx or similar into what could easily be real suit? East knows west has few points and may have zozed off here.



Bobby WolffOctober 3rd, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Hi Iain,

As we both know, playing our game can be very challenging.

True, since South chose 2 Spades as his second call, it could easily mean that he, South, had some length in spades, in spite of his continuing on to 3NT, guaranteeing a club stop, when North preferred diamonds. Why wouldn’t South have chosen 3 natural clubs instead of 2 unnatural spades is only for South to answer.

At least to me, South was obviously bidding a stopper for NT, awaiting North’s 2nd rebid, which if it would have been 3 hearts, South may have preferred to raise to 4 hearts instead of choosing 3NT. All the above are only personal choices by the player bidding them. Carrying on, and consistent with what my experience tells me, is that knowing one’s opponents and their tendencies is considerably more important than some of the more scientific areas of the game, such as technical excellence.

Yes, East may have zozed off, but the above is the most important reason that in long round robin world matches, while playing against many teams, each with varied abilities, but with specific tendencies, it is important for a coach type to scout upcoming opponents and report back to the partnership on one’s team who is about to play them next round.

It narrows down to priorities and very high on my list, is knowing what to expect.

Iain ClimieOctober 3rd, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for this and zozed should be dozed of course. Also the insight on scouting was very i interesting – a quick glance at top level teams play.


Bobby WolffOctober 3rd, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Hi Iain,

I love zozed and thought you had brilliantly coined a new expression whose z’s certainly indicate sleep or sleepy.

Iain ClimieOctober 3rd, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Only by accident, sadly, but it could be “another keeper” to quote Clarksburg .

AndrewOctober 3rd, 2013 at 6:56 pm

In the featured hand, it doesn’t seem to matter if east ducks at trick 2. If he takes the AD, declarer has 2 spades, 1 heart, 4 diamonds, and 2 clubs with a successful finesse and declarer makes 9 tricks anyway. Of course, this assumes declarer can see through the backs of the cards and guesses to take the club finesse over the heart finesse.

Jeff SOctober 3rd, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Being able to see through the backs of the cards would be a huge advantage. This is why one should never play bridge against Superman.

Bobby WolffOctober 3rd, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Dear Iain,

And to justify Clarksburg’s expected response to your descriptive improvisation, how about another quote from today’s column poet, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same;” best describes being a good winner AND a good loser which you have proven, at the very least, to me!

Bobby WolffOctober 3rd, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Hi Andrew,

Yes, and the reason for one of the oldest bridge bromides, established many years ago, “One peek is worth two finesses”. I tried to talk my opponents to not hold their hands so high, but they just don’t listen to me.

Thanks for your comment and do not be a stranger in our bridge paradise.

Bobby WolffOctober 3rd, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Hi Jeff S,

Never say never.

All one has to do is carry around a supply of kryptonite and presto, chango, Superman will not be able to follow suit, but just in case I am wrong, it will be wise if you hold your cards up.

jim2October 3rd, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Lead- coated cards would suffice. No reason to hurt the poor guy!

Bobby WolffOctober 4th, 2013 at 10:03 am

Hi Jim2,

If high calibre bullets bounced off my chest and I could leap tall buildings and besides, fly, should I worry about letting the lead in? I say get the lead out, which others have suggested I do.