Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

Habitual liars invent falsehoods not to gain any end or even to deceive their hearers, but to amuse themselves. It is partly practice and partly habit. It requires an effort in them to speak truth.

William Hazlitt

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


The art of deceptive defense comes in many forms. Sometimes you need to misrepresent your hand to your partner to get him to make the right play.

However, it may be even more satisfying to trick declarer into doing the wrong thing. Sometimes you can signal deceptive attitude about an honor in a critical suit. Equally, you may try to persuade declarer that you are threatening a ruff or over-ruff, or give false count to make declarer think a suit is breaking when it is not.

After South opens one spade and your partner overcalls two hearts, you defend to four spades. When your partner leads a top heart, you do best to signal a high-low in hearts to simulate a doubleton. If your partner leads three rounds of the suit, do you think declarer will be able to bring himself to ruff low? If he ruffs with the king, jack or 10, then you will have a trump trick and a club to come.

How would declarer play if you told the truth in hearts? Imagine that after your partner leads three rounds of hearts, declarer ruffs the third one low. His best play is then to cash the spade king, and take three rounds of diamonds finishing in dummy. Assuming they stand up, declarer discards a club from hand, then passes the spade jack. This line succeeds so long as West started with a singleton spade or the doubleton queen and two or three diamonds, since either the finesse will win or West will be end-played.

Had your LHO raised clubs, you would have doubled for take-out, and had he bid one spade you might have been tempted to try one no-trump. Indeed, you still might quite reasonably do that. But you also have the option as a passed hand to redouble to show values, which also tends to suggest something like a doubleton in support of partner. With more trumps you would raise directly.


♠ K J 10 7
 10 7
 A Q 9 5
♣ J 10 4
South West North East
Pass 1 ♣ 1 Dbl.

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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Bruce karlsonFebruary 28th, 2017 at 12:26 pm

At MP scoring, I would fear that my partner had 6 hearts. The ensuing ruff/sluff could leave us with a poor score and me looking for a new partner. That does not appear to be the case in this hand but…if I did it, declarer would surely have 3 diamonds and 2 clubs.

jim2February 28th, 2017 at 1:25 pm

Bravo, Bruce karlson!

Well, looks like my work is done here … 🙂

Bobby WolffFebruary 28th, 2017 at 3:52 pm

Hi Bruce & Jim2,

Yes TOCM TM (for those uninformed, theory of card migration, trade mark) has struck again, at least, spiritually.

To make matters worse, even when it is not present, as here, it could be, therefore it is, influencing those who have not yet been inflicted, and certainly those, like you two, who have.

All sufferers must join together and enlist a Madame Curie type bridge consultant, one third genius inventor, one third bridge percentage expert, and one third creative psychologist, but above all, not play against today’s East who becomes lethal with his shenanigans, especially to the ultra vulnerable, two of you.

Another possible cure might require both of you to become as sneaky as today’s East in order to better understand that temptation. One result will be self-evident, the enjoyment both of you will receive when (and if) it happens.

And Jim2, please do not retire from our site, instead only rejoice with still another, who is also forced to bear your copyrighted ill. “They also serve, who only stand and wait”.

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