Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, March 11th, 2017

A passage broad, smooth, easy, inoffensive, down to Hell.

John Milton

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


In today’s deal South showed a strong hand plus a long minor when he jumped to three no-trump at his second turn. Playing Kokish relays, had he held a minimum balanced hand he would have rebid two no-trump. In this method, all other balanced game-forcing balanced hands start with an artificial two heart rebid at the second turn.

South had coped with the auction perfectly but he relaxed prematurely after the club 10 lead traveled round to his king. He exited with the club queen, and West won and rather desperately shifted to a low spade to his partner’s ace for a spade back. West captured the queen with the king and now ingeniously exited with the diamond 10. Declarer could have run the diamonds but he saw this would squeeze dummy. Instead, he stripped the diamonds and took his best shot in the hearts when he led up to the queen in dummy. East won this with the king, and returned a heart. Declarer put in the 10, losing to the jack, and that was down one.

The winning line for South is to cash three diamonds at once, then lead the club king. The defenders can take their club and spade winners as before, but West must then lead a heart for declarer. When South plays low from dummy, then even if East can put in the jack declarer can win and run all but one diamond to come down to two black winners in dummy and the bare heart queen. Then he exits in hearts, and take two of the last three tricks.

Is your hand worth a slam try? I say it is, and in order to make that try you have two choices. The first is to bid four hearts, an artificial call (it cannot be natural since you did not transfer into hearts) setting spades and showing slam interest. The second route is to jump to five diamonds, showing short diamonds and spade fit. I prefer the second choice.


♠ K 10 9 4
 J 8 3
♣ A 10 9 8 3
South West North East
    2 NT Pass
3 ♣ Pass 3 ♠ 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


Bobby WolffMarch 25th, 2017 at 11:59 am

Hi everyone,

If ever there has been a declarer’s hand which embodied high-level play against the most qualified worthy opponents, this might be it.

At least to me, it shows card play at its very best, overcoming all the wicked witches and poisoned flowers, without having to visualize special complex coup endings or, more importantly, to work against almost all locations of cards except perhaps against an unlikely 4-0 diamond break which may, in only some cases, allow the defense to still prevail.

Of course, while learning bridge in schools this hand would be saved for a later grade, when leading students would be able to appreciate not only its simplicity, but more so, its elegance.

Finally, would hands of this sort prove that playing bridge cam be so very helpful in being able to think clearly, completely and therefore successfully, but if not, why not?

And therefore who, in the USA Department of Education, after thoroughly researching the subject, together with the rave notices from around the world from both students and teachers years after its inclusion, deny the thought of, at the very least, experimenting with adding it to elective courses for our best and brightest or possibly only for ones who desire to be.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 25th, 2017 at 6:22 pm

Save your breath, dear!

I vividly recall when a multi-billionaire avid bridge lover contributed a HUGE amount of money to THE ACBL in the expectation that they would actively pursue getting bridge into our formal educational system here in the U. S. However, that is obviously not on their agenda. They have their own priorities and teaching bridge in our schools here is down the list .. if at all.

After three months when a progress report was requested and with nothing positive to show for his contribution, the remaining 75% was asked to be returned. What is it going to take for our hemisphere to realize that bridge on the decline and being surpassed the world over in the realm of more upcoming young people who will keep the game alive overseas!

It is time the ACBL woke up and smelled the roses before it is too late.

David WarheitMarch 26th, 2017 at 12:41 am

Speaking of high-level play, the opening lead of D10 defeats the contract, and I think W should have found that lead. (The only other opening lead that works is CA, but that seems beyond deducible.) What do you think about W’s opening lead?

Bobby WolffMarch 26th, 2017 at 1:06 am

Hi David,

My grading system, politics excluded, is only the 10, 9 or 8 of clubs, depending on whether the partnership leads top of an internal sequence, a coded 9 from 109 or always 4th best.

No doubt the opening lead is often the determining factor in the success or not so, for the declarer, but I’ll stick to what I would have led for more years than I can remember.

Even attempting to over analyze a specific bidding sequence has never appealed to me.

Bobby WolffMarch 26th, 2017 at 5:53 pm

Hi again David,

Perhaps I needed to delve a little deeper, in order to explain the above philosophy.

Yes, according to their system, the 3NT jump is normally based on a long suit (usually a minor), with, of course hoped for stoppers in the other three. However, often dealt hands are not made to order, so that at least some judgment, is necessary.

Many times (I would guesstimate perhaps 65+%) hands, bid this way, are cold with perhaps anywhere between 9 to 12 tricks available, with no beat in sight.

However, the declarer sometimes might consider a solid 5 card suit together with sure stoppers worth bidding game himself and not having to rely on partner for a stray jack or two to raise. Also, and in my view, more likely, his hand may include one suit with only a half stop (Qx) and feel that perhaps that will be opposite the jack or instead that luck is being a lady and for this hand, that suit is not going to be led.

At least to me, my experience suggests, hopefully not an illusion, that with the above hand, and if so, clubs definitely represents the suit most likely to result in an immediate set,

In other words, like the political wiretaps, no real evidence, but only a “feeling” strong enough, in my mind, to not shy away from risking giving the declarer his ninth trick in the form of the king of clubs on opening lead.

And furthermore this assumption has everything to do with no Trump,