Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.

Friedrich Nietzsche

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


On this deal from round seven of the European Championships in Croatia last summer, England’s David Gold demonstrated that suicide at the bridge table can be very painful indeed.

The Israeli East-West pair had saved in five diamonds doubled for down one, but England defended four hearts. West selected the club four as his opening lead, putting declarer, Alon Birman, in with a shout.

He won with the ace, crossed to the heart ace and then correctly overtook the heart jack with the king. When West discarded the diamond three, declarer continued with the heart 10, West pitching another diamond, dummy reluctantly discarding the club five.

Gold correctly ducked this trick; not an obvious play. When declarer continued with the heart eight, West pitched the diamond queen and declarer threw the spade five from dummy. Gold calmly took this and returned his remaining trump.

What could declarer spare from dummy now? The only option was a second club, and now his 10th trick had vanished. Declarer ran his three remaining club winners but now needed to establish a diamond trick. If the diamonds were 7-2 with the ace right, then the defenders could simply duck the first diamond and run the suit when in with the spade ace. If they were 8-1, Gold would have taken a diamond ruff earlier; so declarer played for his only legitimate chance when he ducked the first diamond, hoping East had the bare ace. Alas for him, that was not the case, and England had plus 100 in each room.

It is tempting to jump in clubs, but this is not what your hand is about. You have too much outside strength and your club spots are feeble (on a bad day you might go down in three clubs while having a play for three no-trump). The real choice is whether to jump to two no-trump or three no-trump. The latter strongly suggests long clubs, so it would be my choice, since it also facilitates reaching six clubs.


♠ K Q 5
 A J
 K 5
♣ K Q 9 7 6 5
South West North East
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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


David WarheitJuly 8th, 2015 at 10:08 pm

Had I been N, I believe that I would have bid 5C after partner bid 4H. After all, S might only have 4H or, as was the case, there might very well be a bad H break, while the fact that EW obviously have a big fit in D means that NS also must have a big fit, and where else other than C. What thinkest thou?

Bobby WolffJuly 8th, 2015 at 10:48 pm

Hi David,

Believe it or not, I posed that question to Judy this morning and asked her, first what would she do over a 4D opening bid by her RHO, with North as her hand and she refused to answer and threw the question back to me.

I grudgingly agreed to double, but I then also said that, if so, I would live or die with my partner’s major suit response. Of course, relatively easy to do with 4 spades, but with 4 hearts the flag is up and waving.

My rational is that partner, has a very reasonable chance to have either 5 spades or 6 hearts, (probably short diamonds) and if so, it likely will be necessary to pass to have a good chance (IMO 75%+) to go plus.

No doubt, these are the times which try bridge souls and in a team match, sometimes to escape a double and go set will be a pickup against very active opponents who search too hard for perfection.

However, all I am doing is whistling past a graveyard, and have no real idea of what to do.

Your bid of 5C would likely be the choice of an elite bidding panel, and it may even be worth passing the problem along for others to argue.

At matchpoints, even a natural bid of 4NT (many top players, perhaps most, play 4NT over a 4 of a minor pre-empt that way) could win the day, either for trick score when games make or even to grease the path to a good slam.

Methinks it can be explained that it is just too dangerous to not bid or, at the least, do something very aggressive, like stand for 4 hearts when partner bids it.