Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, March 4th, 2017

I’m forever blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air.

Kendis, Brockman and Vincent

S North
None ♠ A 10 7 5
 J 7 3 2
♣ K J 9 5
West East
♠ K Q 9 8 6
 Q 10
 9 7 6 3
♣ 4 2
♠ 4 3 2
 8 6 5
 K Q 10 4
♣ 10 8 7
♠ J
 A K 9 4
 A J 5 2
♣ A Q 6 3
South West North East
1 ♣ 1 ♠ Dbl. Pass
3 Pass 4 ♣ Pass
4 Pass 4 Pass
4 ♠ Pass 6 All pass


In baseball a hitter is regarded as a huge success if he only fails seven times in 10. I occasionally have had to wonder if my own success rate hovers around the same average.

This hand comes from the Macallan tournament two decades ago. At one table Alfredo Versace declared an apparently awkward six heart slam here on the auction shown. After the lead of a top spade, Versace ruffed three diamonds in dummy, using a trump, club and spade ruff to reenter his hand. When he laid down the top trumps he ended up with all 13 tricks.

By contrast, I declared six clubs, which looks easier to make, but I had received an enterprising pre-emptive jump overcall in spades from Lars Blakset with the West hand.

After a top spade lead I set about the same cross-ruff, ruffing three diamonds in dummy, using a top heart and a spade ruff as reentries to hand. When the heart 10 fell I now thought I knew East, Jens Auken, had begun life with precisely 2=4=4=3 pattern. So I led dummy’s high trump and overtook it (setting up East’s 10) and played two more rounds of trump to leave East on lead.

If he had three hearts left, as did both dummy and declarer, he would be endplayed to lead a heart round to the jack, and I could finesse the heart nine on the way back, for a very elegant 12 tricks.

But Auken produced an impossible spade, down went the contract, and my chance of a brilliancy prize went up in smoke.

Your partner’s two diamond call suggests real extras, but is consistent with say a 17-19 count with no diamond stopper and only three spades. Regardless, you have a straightforward jump to four spades, suggesting five spades and extras. If your partner actually has a game-forcing hand with a club or heart suit he will bid it next – and you will probably raise to slam.


♠ K Q 9 8 6
 Q 10
 9 7 6 3
♣ 4 2
South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
1 ♠ Pass 2 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Bill CubleyMarch 18th, 2017 at 2:59 pm

Forgive my non-expert opinion, but you were about a .700 average player. As proof, please ask Judy. 😉 Hoping I got this right.

Michael BeyroutiMarch 18th, 2017 at 3:17 pm

Another appropriate song by Brockman is:
“I Faw Down An’ Go Boom”.

Bobby WolffMarch 18th, 2017 at 3:58 pm

Hi Billl,

Yes, I have now been brainwashing Judy for many years, being careful not to bother her with my going boom in the past.

Just maybe, I should go into politics now and leave the bridge playing to youngsters. No doubt and thank heaven you did get it right.

Bobby WolffMarch 18th, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Hi Michael,

It’s funny, though somewhat tragic, that I remember this hand so vividly.

So many years ago and being very young (even before taking up bridge) I listened to the Joe Louis-Billy Conn heavyweight championship on the radio in which Conn already had the fight won on points and in the 13th round (of a 15 round fight).

However, he wanted to make a bigger splash by then attempting to knock Joe out. but wound up that way on the canvas himself, only another loser.

I believe that was the well heralded contest when Louis suggested before, “Yes Conn is fast and shifty and he can run, but he can’t hide”. He didn’t, at least with his 13th round strategy, but obviously he should have.

Billy also, like the other song by Brockman, “Faw Down An’ Go Boom” became a reminder of just another failed plan.

jim2March 18th, 2017 at 6:36 pm

I never asserted that TOCM ™ did not pre-date me. I just was the first to trade-mark it.


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