Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

The plan, a memory of the future, tries on reality to see if it fits.

Laurence Gonzales

N North
None ♠ A 9 3 2
 4 2
 K 8 3
♣ A 7 6 3
West East
♠ K Q J 10 8
 J 10 8 3
 Q 10
♣ K 10
♠ 7 5 4
 J 9 7 5 4
♣ Q 9 8 5
♠ 6
 A K Q 7 6 5
 A 6 2
♣ J 4 2
South West North East
    Pass Pass
1 1 ♠ 2 NT Pass
4 All pass    


When you first learn to play bridge the power of the trump suit is sometimes difficult to grasp. One takes ruffs whenever one can – and that is not always a good idea. It is by no means obvious that as declarer you generate extra tricks more easily by taking ruffs in the short trump hand than with your long trumps. Worse still, just when you think you have the situation under control, along comes a hand like today’s, where the key is to ruff in the long hand. The deal cropped up in the annual Parliamentary match, won that year by the House of Lords, and sponsored by the London Export Company.

With the tip we have just been discussing in mind, plan the play in four hearts on the lead of the spade king. On the surface of it, the deal looks extremely straightforward. You will succeed if trumps break 3-2 but appear to have little extra chance if they are 4-1. However, you never know; once you see the point of the deal, you will win the spade ace and ruff a spade. Now try your three top trumps.

When East shows out on the second round, you should allow yourself an inward smile, because your thoughtful play at trick two has paid off. Next play the diamond ace, a diamond to dummy’s king and ruff another spade. Now a club to dummy’s ace allows you to ruff your last spade. In total you have made four outside tricks and six trump tricks – 10 in all.

Since you have enough points to know your side has the majority of high cards, lead a trump to prevent the opponents scoring their trumps separately. It is a good thought to have at the back of your mind that when the opponents are not overly blessed with high cards, and do not appear to have a side-suit to set up and run, leading trumps is generally indicated.


♠ J 9 7 3 2
 J 9 2
 J 8
♣ A J 3
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 ♠ Dbl. Pass 4
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


Judy Kay-WolffJune 30th, 2015 at 4:52 pm

Hi Bobby,

It is a hand like this that is really a no-brainer. If you just take your time and assure the contract by assessing the possible problem at trick one and planning your line of attack .. you will be a happier (and more successful) declarer. I suppose it falls into the category of merely counting your tricks!

I remember my frustrations and being offended when someone told me early on that ‘bridge is an easy game.’ However, I realized decades later that the remark was half-right. The word ‘easy’ should have been replaced with a more accurate description — ‘easier.’ Funny the things one recalls!

Bobby WolffJune 30th, 2015 at 5:24 pm

Hi J,

Neither the words “easy and/or easier” probably belong in a discussion of what is involved in climbing up the ladder to reach various positive levels in the playing of our beloved game.

A “special” kind of logic is involved, consistent with numeracy, without which many are left at the station.

Is that logic “easy, easier, difficult, seemingly almost impossible, or a slam dunk”?

Depends on one’s teacher, one’s attitude, one’s desire, and certainly one’s determination to get to there from here.

Once learned, advancement usually is on a fast elevator going up. It is the relatively rare thinking present, plus the partnership coordination and the studying necessary in the language of cards which ultimately will determine.

There are many, if not all who will agree that the process is not only worth it, but after arriving will be thought of as worth every minute of frustration during that elevator ride.

For a proven testimonial all one needs to do is listen to the kids in Europe and China who are and have experienced it in their schools and everyone will jump to the task which will result in pleasure for a lifetime.

Guy SimetiJune 30th, 2015 at 6:16 pm

SOUTH can also allow himself a second inward smile for cashing the DA first, then proceeding toward the DK. This accommodates the off chance that WEST has a singleton D and presents WEST with no winning option: ruff an opponent’s loser or allow the DK to win.
Please continue with your excellent columns as many orgs like the NY Times are discontinuing their bridge columns (Alder was very good).

Judy Kay-WolffJune 30th, 2015 at 6:37 pm

Bobby, it is sad indeed that the ACBL has not deemed it essential (even mandatory) to HELP establish an official bridge curriculum in our educational systems starting at Grade One through at least level six. WHAT, I question, could be more helpful in facing life such as learning logic, reasoning, manners, ethics, respect for one’s peers, etc. than our marvelous
revered pastime?? It appears more time and money are being targeted to accommodate us oldtimers than to consider and improve the future of our upcoming generations. I laughingly reflect upon all the nonsensical courses I took (even in college) which were totally useless in the development of skill to improve our lifestyles.

Sorry to step onto your soapbox, but it is high time the ACBL rose to the occasion of OFFICIALLY exerting serious efforts to accomplish that tantamount goal!

Bobby WolffJuly 1st, 2015 at 8:19 am

Hi Guy,

Yes, the diamond plays allowed for a singleton in the only hand, West, it was at all likely to occur and thus was consistent for a declarer exercising good technique.

Also, no doubt, newspaper bridge columns are taking on features of an endangered species, which is very sad for all bridge lovers (and writers) who are used to reading (and writing) about our wonderful and beloved game on a daily basis.

Let us hope that at least most newspapers see the huge advantage of holding out removing that respected high-level cultural
feature if for no other reason than the ones who read it, a significant, but sometimes silent percentage, often base keeping their newspaper subscription on only that fact alone.

Time alone will tell, but it is never heartening to think about losing a very good daily long term friend, especially when many more than are thought turn immediately to the bridge column when first opening the daily newspaper.

Old habits are hard to overcome, especially ones like reading daily bridge columns, which have been going on for so many years. and have been so consistently enjoyable, challenging in popularity the crossword puzzles, advice to the lovelorn and even the comics for a much larger and fiercely dedicated group, than most suspect.

Thanks Guy, for your proper and genuine concern.