Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

Be content with your lot; one cannot be first in everything.


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


In today’s deal East and West have no reason to enter the auction, and when North makes a limit raise to three hearts, South should simply bid game rather than tip the opponents off to their best lead.

However, when West leads the spade jack, the best play for four hearts is by no means obvious. Declarer is threatened with the loss of four black suit winners if the club honors are badly placed. To avoid the possible threats it looks right to try to set up the diamonds, but you have a choice of strategies.

Best is to draw trump and play the diamond ace then the jack, running it to West, and throwing away a spade loser. If East has the diamond king you avoid losing the second spade. If West has the diamond king, you will be able to throw two clubs away on the diamonds later on by crossing to dummy in trumps.

But there is one more step in the process – and having identified the main thrust of the deal, it would be a shame to fall at the preliminary hurdle. You must duck the first trick both in dummy and in hand, in an attempt to cut defensive communications. Then you win the next spade, before playing on the red suits. If you cover the first spade in dummy or win it in hand, you leave open a line of communication for the defense to cross back and forth in spades, and beat you if West has the diamond king and one or both club honors.

After this start to the auction you are too good to pass but it isn’t clear if your best game will be clubs or no-trump. With a minimum hand you would pass, and a call of three spades should suggest a half-stopper. With what appears to be a full stopper, you should bid three no-trump yourself rather than force partner to bite the bullet with jack-third or even three small spades.


♠ Q 5 2
 A 10 9 8
 A J 10 9
♣ 6 4
South West North East
    1 ♣ 1 ♠
Dbl. 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


Peter PengApril 20th, 2017 at 1:23 am

hi Bobby

“be content with your lot” applies to many of the hands I play.

Say I need 9 tricks, and I have 8 guaranteed, i.e. down 1. I know the chance for the 9th is slim, say 10%, and the risk will be down 2. Based on bidding it is 1% of success. I go for it.

Is that a name for that syndrome?

thanks for your attention.

(Percentages may have been exaggerated)

Bobby WolffApril 20th, 2017 at 4:37 am

Hi Peter,

You have been given a great gift of being honest in your personal assessment, which though no doubt, being greatly exaggerated, is very becoming and by its nature, allows you to grow and soon become able to rise to the occasion of understanding how to win at this very difficult game.

Yes, take risks, even though they may likely fail, but the reward of winning, even once in a while, (hopefully and almost certainly) better than only 10%, shows a willingness to seek moving up the ladder while others, who seem so secure, are really not, making them not as likely to become what you seek, a competitive game, even against while being compared to more experienced players.

The name for that syndrome is only hopeful, and while every bridge hand will offer different hurdles, being optimistic is a very important guide to moving upward among your friends, until, presto, magico, you will begin to consistently shine with your results.

Good luck, and I for one will bet you will one day, sooner than you think, arrive at a bridge level, you would never now dream you could attain. Prove it to both me and yourself, you can do it, and dollars to doughnuts you will.