Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 12th, 2015

What we have here is failure to communicate.

Donn Pearce and Frank Pierson (Cool Hand Luke)

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


A recent deal from the Gold Coast Congress in Australia presented some interest to me. With South declarer in three no-trump on a top club lead from West, how challenging a deal do you think this is?

I was surprised to see that no fewer than a quarter of the field went down in three no-trumps after a club or diamond lead. If that doesn’t tickle your curiosity, it should, since this is almost a sure trick problem (you can’t guarantee the contract since the opponents might have four hearts and a spade to cash, and 5-2 diamonds might embarrass you).

After a club lead by West, the hand with the entry problems is clearly North rather than South — the spade honors should always allow you to reach the South hand late in the day. So win the club lead, unblock diamonds, then cross to the club honor in dummy, and cash your two remaining diamond tricks. When you lead a spade toward South, the defenders can win but they cannot cash their four heart tricks because of the blockage.

Just for the record, if North is declarer on an initial spade lead by East, life is far harder. South covers the jack, and West does best to duck. Now the only way to make the game is for declarer to play on hearts at every turn to cut the defenders’ communications in hearts. That way, the defenders will eventually have to allow declarer into one hand or the other.

Lead the club nine, playing your partner (who needs to have decent values to have any chance to beat the game) to have clubs rather than spades. If he had a decent hand with spades, he might well have taken the opportunity to act at his first or second turn to speak.


♠ A 4 2
 10 7 5 2
 10 9 3
♣ 9 8 2
South West North East
Pass 1
Pass 1 Pass 1 NT
Pass 3 NT All 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Bill CubleyJanuary 26th, 2015 at 2:09 pm


Thanks for a quote from a source I know. 😉

Bill CubleyJanuary 26th, 2015 at 2:13 pm

Coincidentally, today January 26, 1925 is Paul Newman’s birthday.

Two favorites_
Money won is twice as good as money earned
Hell, the fall is going to kill you.

Judy Kay-WolffJanuary 26th, 2015 at 2:55 pm


Funny you should mention Cool Hand Luke as Bobby and I are both old-time movie memorabilia freaks. When you mentioned Paul Newman, I immediately envisioned Joanne Woodward. If I could only remember my conventions as well, my scores would be on the rise. Funny the things that live on in one’s mind and the ones filtered out by old age.



bobby wolffJanuary 26th, 2015 at 4:09 pm

Hi Bill,

But did you know that Donn and Frank said it, and from “Cool Hand Luke”? I didn’t, but obviously saw that wonderful movie.

Furthermore, the ability to communicate successfully knows not many boundaries, including what we are doing right at this very minute and about what is often critical within our great game.

Probably the greatest twentieth century invention was “radar”, a survey which was taken a few years ago. Believe it or not, TV was a few notches down and so was a number of medical inventions.

The beat goes on and on.

bobby wolffJanuary 26th, 2015 at 4:38 pm

Hi again Bill,

And speaking of Paul Newman, someone just said that I look just like he did in “The Hustler”. Oh my, I just awoke from a dream, where I saw Laura (Gene Tierney) on the train which was passing through, together with Clifton Webb in his first movie and, of course, the dashing Dana Andrews, but all the above was only fantasy, especially the look alike, but great anticipation.

David WarheitJanuary 26th, 2015 at 5:19 pm

Yes, happy birthday to Paul Newman, but please let us not forget Strother Martin who uttered the immortal line and who appeared in 6 films with Mr. Newman, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I have to say, though, that this is the first time I learned that he was talking about bridge!

bobby wolffJanuary 26th, 2015 at 6:10 pm

Hi David,

Sadly I do not remember Newman’s friend Martin, but, of course, vividly remember Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Perhaps I would Strother time and the wide variances included with bridge causes it to nestle up closely with many common topics.

Thanks for the education while strolling down Memory Lane.