Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 19th, 2014

Diplomacy means the art of nearly deceiving all your friends, but not quite deceiving all your enemies.

Kofi Busia

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



Sometimes second hand high by the defense will start a completely wrong train of thought for declarer. On this deal, my regular teammate, Hugh Ross, was caught out by the ingenious defense of Vino Bisht of the Netherlands.

The defense to three no-trump started with a diamond to the ace and a low club from dummy, on which Bisht imaginatively rose with the queen! He could see that unless his partner had both the club king and jack, three no-trump was virtually bound to make. He shifted to the diamond 10, and Ross decided to duck this trick. That play would have been correct if he kept West off play and neutralized the diamonds, and the play thus far had persuaded Ross that East had either the club king or jack. By contrast, covering the diamond 10 might have let West duck the trick; now when East got on lead in clubs, another diamond through would spell curtains for the contract.

However Bisht could now clear the diamonds, and Ross took the fourth round of the suit, then played a club to the ace and another club. He assumed that East, the nondanger hand, would take this trick; instead van Oppen won and cashed the fifth diamond for one down.

In the other room, Hans Kreyns won the diamond ace and led a club to the eight and jack. He ducked the diamond return, won the fourth round of the suit, then ducked a club to East and had nine tricks.

This would be a harder problem if your partner were not a passed hand, As it is, you should play the double as takeout and bid two diamonds. Personally, I play that even by a passed hand this is a rare double of one no-trump for takeout, not penalty. Even if partner is strong, either opener or responder will be running to safety — or you won't have your bid. Either way, a penalty double won't get you rich.


♠ A Q 7 5 4
 Q 6
 Q J 6 5
♣ 8 3
South West North East
Pass 1♣
1♠ 1 NT 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Bill CubleyAugust 2nd, 2014 at 8:26 pm

My team qualified for the D21 GNT KO finals and we were assigned to play against Hugh, Peter Pender, Chip Martel and Lew Stansby. We were reasonably close at the half.

Then we played Hugh and Peter. Early on partner claimed making 4NT. Hugh immediately declined the claim and conceded making 11 tricks. Peter leaned over carefully checking the hand and finally consented. I thought we had a push and had wonderful thoughts about this act of sportsmanship in a match which was still close.

We finally compared scores with our teammates. Dammit, Chip and Lew made 6 and we LOST an IMP! Still pisses me off 25 years later.

I mentioned this to both Chip and Lew over the years and they both smiled. Especially at the part where I am still mad. 😉

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 3rd, 2014 at 1:46 am

Hi Bill:

Although the occurrence recalled rather unhappy memories to you of a losing match, it just confirmed that Hugh and Peter were two of the most ethical and honorable players of my era. Sadly, because of physical disabilities, Hugh was sidelined several years ago and, of course, Peter passed on in 1990. Norman and I knew Peter quite well as he was from Philadelphia until he moved to the West Coast. Many a night was spent at Bob Jordan’s apartment playing bridge .. followed by trivia and word games. He was ultra talented!! Thanks for recalling such warm memories to me.