Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, October 25th, 2014

We are all controlled by the world in which we live, and part of that world has been and will be constructed by men.

Burrhus Skinner

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


**Two keycards


The Dyspeptics Club recently contacted the Guinness Book of World Records to enter South as the luckiest man in the world, based on the number of honor cards he averages per deal. But as North bitterly remarked, the high-cards he is dealt fall by the wayside, since he never seems to make the contracts that require more than a modicum of care. And today's deal was especially painful, since if one cannot focus one's attention in a grand slam, when can one do so?

After the lead of the diamond king to the ace, South cashed the spade ace, drew trump with the aid of the finesse, and tried to make something of the minor suits. Alas, when clubs were not 3-3 and East could retain control of the diamond suit, the contract had to go down one.

South was extremely unlucky to run into a 4-0 trump break, but since that was his only concern in the deal, he should have taken steps at trick two to cope with a 4-0 break with East having the length.

The correct play is to win the diamond ace, take a diamond ruff, and only then to play a spade to the ace. Now take a second diamond ruff, lead a heart to the king, play a spade to the 10, then unblock the spade king, lead a club to the ace, cash the spade queen, and claim. You make four trumps in dummy and two ruffs in hand, three hearts, three clubs and a diamond.

Whether or not the call of two diamonds is game-forcing or forcing for one round, I am deeply uncomfortable with bidding three clubs on a hand with minimum shape and high cards, plus most of the values in an unbid suit. I could live with rebidding two spades as a temporizing move, or bidding two no-trump, which gets the values across, though it suggests two diamonds.


♠ K 10 7 6 3
 A Q J
♣ K 9 6 4
South West North East
1♠ 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieNovember 8th, 2014 at 10:55 am

Hi Bobby,

On BWTA today, if 2D is GF is there even a case for temporrising with 2H? True, partner might bid 4H (although it might make) but he can bid 3H as it is still forcing and now 3N gives an only slightly warped picture of the hand – or do you think the whole idea might misfire and become a Dorian Gray type nightmare?



bobby wolffNovember 8th, 2014 at 11:23 am

Hi Iain,

While 2 hearts is not a far out distortion, I prefer rebidding 2NT instead, rather than ward off a heart lead when we eventually get to 3NT, a contract which figures (on the first two bids made) to be likely on the table.

Two hearts, though visionary to some degree, does not figure to help (nor probably hurt) unless partner with 4 little hearts now basically insists on 4 hearts, resisting our then attempt to play 3NT.

It also may not help our partnership gain the consistency that all partnerships need to stay away from all distortions, therefore breeding more confidence (even if we wind up in a making 4 hearts while partner with his singleton club) doesn’t overrule our 3NT effort, which turns out to be down (partner turns out to be 2-4-6-1, that 1 being the Q or A with the K10 of hearts).

And so it goes. Unfortunately, in a good partnership both partners will remember each other’s flights of fancy, particularly so when the echo heard is down 1.

However, my advice is certainly not even bordering on gospel, and is only one old guy’s vague recollection.

Iain ClimieNovember 8th, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for this and a stray diversion. What have my enjoyment of beer after (not during) bridge, an 18th century British century music appreciation society, an ancient greek poet and US patriotism got in common? I was alerted to this by a TV programme on 18th century culture last night. Answer below, although obviously my beer isn’t particularly significant.


Anacreon was the poet, the 18th century music appreciation society in Britain was named after him but they were keen on the wine (and possibly women) to support the music. The tune for their drinking song was adopted for a well known anthem; I just hope the prohibitionists never realised. Life is full of odd links, although I’m guessing you knew all this.


bobby wolffNovember 9th, 2014 at 2:06 am

Hi Iain,

To be sure, I knew all the 18th century poets, even broken bread with some of them. However you possibly mentioned wine and women in the wrong order, although wine is sometimes necessary to get things started. And the prohibitionists in America are definitely in control, except not at prohibiting liquor, but rather prosperity.

And the most well known links is right there in Scotland where Europe should set up a large museum to house their Ryder Cups, with recent and so many more to come. Soon bridge will follow suit, unless China comes to life, then Eurasia can share the polish.