Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Truth and facts are woven together. However, sometimes facts can blind you from seeing what is actually going on in someone's life.

Shannon Alder

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


In the quarter-finals of the world championships, the US and Canadian teams met up, in an elimination match. In a see-saw match, the US pulled away at the end, to win comfortably.

Both tables played four spades here, and ,against the Canadian declarer, Bobby Levin led the diamond king, ducked by declarer. A second diamond went to dummy’s ace, and Daniel Korbel pulled trumps in three rounds before taking the heart finesse. Now the club jack went to the eight, three and queen.

Korbel ruffed the diamond return, then played a low club from hand, Levin playing the ace. Had Korbel unblocked the club 10 from dummy, he would still have had a chance to make the contract. (He could guess to enter dummy with the heart ace and play a low club to his seven.) However, with the blocking club 10 still in dummy, declarer had no chance after ruffing the diamond return with his last trump. He cashed the club king and had to concede one down.

In the other room West also led the diamond king, ducked, and continued the suit. The American declarer, Kevin Bathurst, won and played the spade 10, then a spade to the jack, before judging very well to advance a low club from hand. West could do no better than win the club queen and cash the club ace before continuing with the diamond queen. The ruff-sluff allowed Bathurst to discard a low heart from hand and claim his 10 tricks.

This is insoluble in Standard American, since the fourth suit, two clubs, sets up a game force. You can overbid with that call (which at least gets you to the right strain), underbid by raising to two spades, or jump to two no-trump to invite game. This last call overstates your club stopper and might wrongside no-trump, as well. Your useful club 10 may make the overbid of two clubs the least lie.


♠ 10 9 7
 A Q 6 5 3
 A 4
♣ J 10 2
South West North East
Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass 1♠ 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


David WarheitOctober 28th, 2014 at 10:37 am

When Bathurst led a club at trick 5, suppose W leads a diamond after winning the club queen. Bathurst would naturally have ruffed in dummy and discarded a heart from his hand. Bathurst now has a choice as how to proceed. A) He could choose to cash the heart ace, ruff a heart, draw the last trump and lead a small club. W wins the ace and leads a fourth diamond, and down goes declarer. B) Declarer leads a second club from dummy. West wins and leads a fourth diamond. Declarer ruffs, draws the last trump and claims. This line of defense loses if west has four clubs and his partner has the outstanding spade, since west can now give his partner a club ruff, but declarer already risked that when he led a club at trick 5. So when you say “West could do no better than win the club queen and cash the club ace”, you are almost certainly right in the sense that declarer should find the winning line, but at least my suggested line of defense gives declarer a chance to go wrong.

Iain ClimieOctober 28th, 2014 at 11:21 am

Hi Bobby,

I imagine east in one room really regretted signalling with the C8 although he got lucky. Yet assuming a club ruff doesn’t occur, declarer surely wants West, not east to have the CQ, so the US declarer’s line seems better. If east has CQx, of course, I take it back!



jim2October 28th, 2014 at 12:08 pm

I confess that i did not understand the play of the 8C either.

Howard Bigot-JohnsonOctober 28th, 2014 at 3:09 pm

HBJ : Looking at the hand I would ( and not all four ) I would be looking to establish the heart and gamble on the finesse being right.
Therefore I’m taking the first trick with the diamond Ace, coming to hand with a top trump, followed by another top trump, before taking (thank God ) two top hearts courtesy of the finesse. ( 5 tricks so far ).
On a third heart (east showing out ) there is a change of plan , requiring East to hold the outstanding spade. On the third heart the losing diamond is pitched. What can West do now ? No doubt a top diamond which gets ruffed with the Ace. Now by conceding two clubs, declarer is home by setting up dummy’s club winner and 3 cross ruffs for the contract.

Bobby WolffOctober 28th, 2014 at 4:20 pm

Hi David,

Yes, at least your defense, as the cards lie, has some chance to succeed and your foresight has seen it through.

Your analysis has always been tip top so thanks for keeping your record in tact.

Bobby WolffOctober 28th, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, you are also right-on. And Qx was not likely.

Bobby WolffOctober 28th, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Hi Jim2,

The play of the 8 was probably just a momentary lapse which all of us sometimes suffer.

Bobby WolffOctober 28th, 2014 at 4:26 pm


While I currently do not have time to 100% check out your apparently well conceived line, it certainly has promise. Thanks for keeping us on our toes while taking the less traveled road.