Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Mathematics doesn’t care about those beyond the numbers.

Dejan Stojanovic

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


Never be satisfied when you find that your contract hinges on a finesse. It is always worthwhile investigating additional chances.

Here an exchange of cuebids saw South at his final turn show a club control and also a heart control (the suit his partner had bypassed to deny a control there). Well bid, but when West led the heart nine, won by South with the ace, the slam appeared to depend on the diamond queen being onside. However, South saw an extra chance – that of an elimination and throw-in.

With this in mind declarer cashed the trump king then played a club to the ace and ruffed a club. A second trump to the ace saw the good news of the 2-2 break. Then declarer pitched a heart on the club king, and dummy’s last club, ruffed in hand, took care of the last two clubs.

Placing East with six hearts for his overcall, South did the math to count out the rest of his shape. Since East had shown up with six cards in the black suits, he therefore could only hold a singleton diamond. A diamond to dummy’s ace stripped East down to just hearts, and declarer next got off lead with a heart.

If West won, he would be forced either to play a diamond round into declarer’s tenace, or to give a ruff and discard, on which the diamond loser would depart. And if East won, he would have to play hearts and concede the 12th trick.

You have a nice hand, but one that is not quite strong enough to double then bid spades. A better approach with hands like these is to overcall one spade, expecting to get a second chance to bid your second suit or double for take-out. You rarely miss game by doing this: partner raises spades when he can, or bids his own suit if he has any values. If he doesn’t, you surely haven’t missed anything.


♠ K Q J 5 3
 A 5 2
 K J 9 3
♣ 4
South West North East
      1 ♣

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


Yasser HaiderJuly 23rd, 2015 at 11:21 am

Hi Bobby
I was on the right track until I predictably threw it away at the end. I played the same line but exited with my heart before playing AD. Of course East had an easy exit with his diamond and I was off. If there is a thing called opposite of TOCM, then East’s singleton diamond would have been Queen or 10!
Carelessness and not counting often leads to my downfall. Still, there is tomorrow’s hand to look forward to. Hope springs eternal…

Bobby WolffJuly 23rd, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Hi Yasser,

Although, at least up to now, and, of course, after reading your comment, you have become nothing short of a hero in my eyes.

Your total honesty in reporting and just laying your ego in view for all to see and feel is both a courageous and noble act.

At least to my mind, you, at least have a chance to rise many levels in bridge, once, as you so simply and therefore elegantly state “Carelessness and not counting often leads to your downfall”.

To that you add looking forward to tomorrow’s hand (and hopefully ones that follow) which immediately serves as a keen insight to your fierce determination.

Possessing your superior attitude is perhaps the most important quality in eventually climbing the ladder to bridge success. Of course, there is much difficult work ahead, but without your now proven character (at least to me) you, like so many others, would not have much of a chance.

Thanks for making my day and please from, at the very least, time to time, keep me posted as to your progress. Even if high-level bridge, for whatever reasons (and there are many), is not in your future, whatever be your substitute destiny, will, no doubt, harbor success.

BTW, because the above column is only about teaching, a possible TOCM infection is sure to deny a singleton diamond 10 or queen with East. No doubt Jim2 may think his infectious disease has reached epidemic proportions, but in reality, for him, either clubs, trumps (or both) would not have broken evenly.

Again, thanks for your unforgettable post.

Yasser HaiderJuly 23rd, 2015 at 4:54 pm

Hi Bobby
I reckon I have grown a foot taller since reading your comments. Your kindness to me and numerous others is truly humbling!

Bobby WolffJuly 23rd, 2015 at 6:27 pm

Hi Yasser,

It is I that am humbled by your very kind words.

In these days, on this side of the Atlantic, it is a disappointment hearing nothing better than loony tunes on the agenda from our bridge’s chief administrators, as well as that horror likely agreed to by our home office in Horn Lake, Mississippi .. deciding whether to turn their attention to our learning game of “High card wins” instead of continuing to support our off-the-charts real high-level brand of mind enhancing International bridge. This, no doubt, has caused some sentimentality from me to emerge.

My beloved and creative father, long gone, once said to me, “Robert, whatever you decide to do with your life is OK with me even if it is only to become a janitor or a street sweeper, but if you do, please promise me that you’ll make every effort to be the best one you could possibly be.”

To me, that was excellent advice and what I now believe to be a principle to direct us toward the precious meaning of what life is about.

Your first comment above rang this wake up alarm which my interpretation wanted to salute.

Whatever happens to Western Hemisphere bridge is not now in my control, but there is not much I can do about it but continue to look for forward thinking and capable volunteers to fight the good fight to keep it on everyone’s radar.

From what I glean from what you write, your presence will always increase the chance of success.

I, too, feel taller after hearing from you.