Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

You that are going to be married, think things can never be done too fast; but we, that are old, and know what we are about, must elope methodically, madam.

Oliver Goldsmith

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


After North stretches a little to volunteer a free bid of one no-trump, South is worth the reverse to two spades. Then when North suggests a minimum hand by giving preference to three diamonds, South can make a shape-showing bid at his third turn. Now North knows that what little he has is in the right place. Therefore, he jumps to five diamonds, against which the defense by leading the heart king and continuing the suit. Declarer has three seemingly inescapable losers — but nobody ever made a contract by conceding one down. Let’s see what happens as the hand is played out.

Declarer ruffs the second heart, and cashes the diamond ace-king, hoping for the even trump break. He leaves the defenders with the master trump, and leads a spade to the ace, then takes a second heart ruff. Now a spade is led to the queen, and declarer takes a third heart ruff.

On this trick East is squeezed in an unusual fashion, since if he pitches a spade, it lets declarer run that suit to take care of dummy’s club loser. So East discards a club on the fourth heart. Declarer now cashes the club ace-king, then takes the spade king. Had spades split, declarer would discard dummy’s club loser. As it is, he ruffs his fourth spade in dummy, conceding the last trick to both the club queen and master diamond.

This sort of play, where East is squeezed in three suits one of which is trump, is often referred to as an elopement.

In this sequence a call of two clubs would be natural (suggesting 4-1-4-4 or 4-0-5-4 pattern and a minimum) while a jump to three clubs would be the same pattern but an extra ace. I can’t see any good reason to drive this hand to game, so I would simply invite with a call of two no-trump. Let partner make the last mistake.


♠ K 9 4 2
 A K 8 6 3
♣ A K 5
South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


David WarheitMay 3rd, 2016 at 9:29 am

Or S ruffs the second H, DAK, SA, H ruff, CAK, SQ, SK, S ruff. The end position is dummy has a H & a C, declarer has a D & a C. Dummy leads the H, and S makes his last trump en passant. I believe that if the one line works, so will the other, but what name is there, if any, for my line?

bobby wolffMay 3rd, 2016 at 2:38 pm

Hi David,

Yes, your play is still an elopement, but one made because of an affair which involves both hearts and sometimes diamonds, two reasons for getting married in the first place, therefore for column purposes could be called a practical elopement.

Besides, both clubs and spades are sometimes construed as weapons and that abuse should have no utility in a fresh marriage.

Jane AMay 3rd, 2016 at 3:01 pm

So you are a true romantic, Bobby. How nice for Judy!

Bill CubleyMay 3rd, 2016 at 3:48 pm

“Let partner make the last mistake.” Forget the zero because winning the rehash beats winning is what a lot of players do.

I always disliked “better” players who always mentioned my poor scores as being my fault only as opposed to opponents who played well. They never seem to want to tell me I did well on a hand. Just that I cannot build upon success, only failure. So I stopped listening to them. Review all the boards so good scores can be distinguished between playing well and poor play by the opponents or me. We learn from all the boards.

Guess I am wrong again for disagreeing with the guy who writes the column I read.

bobby wolffMay 4th, 2016 at 1:57 am

Hi Jane A,

No doubt, but bridge romance flourishes when all kinds of finesses work, however no reason to put out the Do Not Disturb sign, when they don’t.

bobby wolffMay 4th, 2016 at 2:12 am

Hi Bill,

Please repeat after me, “I do not disagree with her, just because I squeezed her, allowing the setting trick to vanish, does not mean I don’t love her”.

“BTW, where did she go and how along ago”?

slarMay 4th, 2016 at 3:23 am

The problem I have is that when my partner misbids, there is usually some UI that goes along with it. All I can do is take the bid at face value and hope partner was actually right or that we get away with it. This happens…sometimes. When it doesn’t, hopefully it is during a low-stakes club game or we can make up for it elsewhere. Often the most painful mistakes make the most lasting impressions.

bobby wolffMay 4th, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Hi Slar,

Believe it or not, it is possible to sometimes talk to partner about the UI he transmits and why he must try his best to change.

Oft time, particularly in the case of relatively newcomers to our great game, that player does not realize that either his study or sometimes his emphasis, is just not allowed and only he can prevent it from happening.

By you being both tactful and sensitive in your explanation, good results may be forthcoming, but if not, in order to keep your reputation from being sullied, you need to distance yourself from him and thus discard him from being your partner.

No doubt harsh words, but our game itself just does not lend itself to such things as consistent UI from partner and just perhaps by you taking that proper stand, he may then adjust and realize bridge itself has unusual standards, not applicable to many other games (cards or other), and come back to being a solid citizen, enabling you two to join up again as partners.

Good luck in your humanitarian duties and do not kid yourself to it being totally necessary, since without so doing, your bridge life will always be bound with shallows and miseries.

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