Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

If we think (the people) not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.

Thomas Jefferson

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



Today's deal was played in three no-trump or in six diamonds at every table. Whatever contract was attempted came home in some comfort — since if North played three no-trump on a heart lead, he would take the spade finesse as his extra chance before going after the ninth trick that he needed from the club suit. Of course had he played on clubs before spades, he would have risked going down as the cards lay.

The play in six diamonds followed a curiously similar general pattern. West led a heart and declarer tried an early club to the king and ace. Now South knew he needed a discard from dummy to take care of the losing club, so he also led a spade to the jack. When the finesse succeeded, he had a straightforward route to 12 tricks.

Only one East-West pair went plus; here is how they did it (on the auction shown).

Mike Passell as West did very well to stay out of the auction. (Had he overcalled one heart, East would have shown a pre-emptive raise in that suit, and declarer would have known to take the spade finesse rather than play on clubs.)

Against six diamonds Passell selected the heart lead, which gave declarer nothing. Declarer, Jerzy Russyan, won the heart and led a club to his king, smoothly ducked by Passell, persuading declarer to draw trumps and lead a second club toward his hand. Down one!

When you hold the unbid suit well stopped, you should only use fourth suit if you are in any doubt as to what the best game is, or if there is a possibility of slam. Here, while partner could have as yet unshown extras, your balanced minimum opening bid heavily suggests that three no-trump is the best game. So bid it.


♠ A J
 A J 5 4
 K 10 5 3
♣ 9 5 2
South West North East
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


Bill CubleyOctober 29th, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Great quote as the election approaches.

Missing AJTxx causes me to wonder how he expected to run the clubs. Even a 3-2 break is against the odds half the time. Except if JT are doubleton. He just exchanged the 50% spade finesse for the 50% ace of clubs on side play and ignored 4-1 breaks.

Now if I could only analyze as well at the table.

Bobby WolffOctober 29th, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Hi Bill,

Thanks for your kind words about the quote.

Because of the 2-2 trump break and, of course a club discard on the heart ace those 2 extra trumps in dummy will allow a make of the diamond slam on either black finesse being right as long as the right one is selected to be taken.

Those players who claim to possess “table feel” will probably test out the club first, since it is not so final in the result (if it is gobbled). However the real declarer miss guessed because of the graceful club duck by Mike Passell.

Lucky we aren’t Jim2 who could be sure that neither finesse would work, so he might as well play for a singleton ace behind the KQ of clubs or the singleton Q behind the AJ doubleton in spades. The odds then would favor playing for the lonesome Ace of clubs. except Jim2’s malady of TOCM tm probably would not allow either singleton anyway so he should stop at game.

Thanks for writing. I am sorry to have to discuss all that negative stuff.