Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, October 21st, 2016

If (the genuine realist) is confronted with a miracle as an irrefutable fact he would rather disbelieve his own senses than admit the miraculous also.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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


When playing a good contract the onus is on you to work out what might possibly go wrong, then play to circumvent that misfortune in advance. If you find there are lies of the cards you cannot overcome, ignore them, and focus on what positions allow you to succeed.

Here for example your partner sensibly drives you to six notrump, although at teams one could certainly see some justification in looking for a minorsuit slam. (One possibility, for example, would be to bid five notrump to offer partner a choice of slams.)

Against the slam the heart 10 is led, so before playing to the first trick you place East with the heart ace. If so, can you see how the contract can always be made?

When you play low from dummy East has to withhold his ace or you can claim the rest. Once your heart king wins, you take four clubs and find that suit breaking 3-2. Do not commit yourself yet, but simply cash three spades, throwing a heart. Then take the diamond ace and king. If diamonds were 3-2 or West had the guarded diamond jack remaining, you could now claim your slam.

Your misguess in diamonds may seem fatal, but remember that everyone is reduced to three cards. East has had to bare the heart ace in order to keep the diamonds guarded. So a heart to dummy’s bare queen and East’s ace will see him forced to lead away from the diamond jack in the two-card ending, and give you the rest.

Although you have slightly more than a classical no-trump overcall, you should simply bid two no-trump and not worry about that extra jack. It is far more important to get the basic nature of your hand across as quickly as possible, rather than starting by doubling — and creating a complex auction where you could have had a simple one.


♠ A Q 5
 Q 7
 A Q 7 6
♣ K J 10 4
South West North East
  Pass Pass 2

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


Iain ClimieNovember 4th, 2016 at 4:17 pm

Hi Bobby,

A nice hand but titles by today’s author have bridge resonance. “Crime and Punishment”, “The Idiot” and “The Devils” all spring to mind, plus “The Gambler”, “The Double and “Notes from Underground”, the last set in a graveyard. OK, the last one suggests a partner without a sense of humour and FD himself had an interesting experience. He was sentenced to death by firing squad but given a last minute but preplanned reprieve after the hood had been put over his head. One of the other people set up in the same group went completely mad after his release. FD went savagely reactionary.



jim2November 4th, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Those who did not see the solution at Trick 1 will likely:

– win second heart (with East presumably returning the JH, the card known held)
– play winners with both defender following throughout until the third club

As declarer prepares to win the club in the desired hand, West would seem slightly more likely to hold more hearts than East (if they are not 4-4), based on opening lead, though 1098 cannot be ruled out. Once East shows out on the third club, a second bit of evidence would point to East being more likely to hold 4 diamonds, if either defended did.

Thus, declarer would advance the 10D toward the boardf, overtake when West showed out, and finesse happily on the way back for 12 tricks.

As for moi, TOCM ™ would shift West’s hand at MY table to:


Bobby WolffNovember 4th, 2016 at 5:27 pm

Hi Iain,

Totally agree, with the Russian, Dostoyevsky, somehow sensing the future, surely including the 2016 Presidential American Election, in the selection of most of his book titles which, in turn may cause many more reactionaries in years to come, perhaps almost immediately.

Perhaps the whole world has gone “mad” (ala one of FD’s characters) but our cast of winners of the party’s choices, rather than the reminder of a simply sensational 1940’s radio show aptly named, “It pays to be Ignorant” where the questions ranged from “Did Lincoln die before or after he gave his Gettysburg Address”?, to “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb”?.

BTW, the first responses to what might be those answers and the road to determine such, were questions from the panelists, of, “What year was Lincoln married” to, “Was that dead man buried in a cemetery or a mausoleum?”

Bobby WolffNovember 4th, 2016 at 5:40 pm

Hi Jim2,

After all these years of compassion (along with all who are privy to your plight) it must be said that being afflicted with TOCM TM, might be nothing short of a blessing, since the actual just “winning” at the local club” can not match up with all the stories emanating from your happy soul.

And to think that many of us so respected Helen Keller for her unbelievable accomplishments under the most undesirable afflictions, instead of the immense satisfaction which you and she must “feel” rather than just the ability to score better at the local duplicate.

And BTW, quit trying to takeaway from the simple teaching of higher level bridge and its likely adventures, by merely adding what might have been.

In the future instead, please try to play along with the facade.