Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 28th, 2017

Never walk away from failure. On the contrary, study it carefully and imaginatively for its hidden assets.

Michael Korda

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


With three four-card suits, North begins by bidding the suit under the singleton. This leaves him in good position for his next bid.

As expected, South responds in North’s singleton. North can now introduce his spades conveniently, over which South has a problem. He almost has enough to invite game because of his source of tricks, but with a known misfit, a call of one no-trump looks the prudent way to go. When North invites game (also a restrained action) South has plenty in hand for his acceptance.

After a top club lead, South must be careful not to duck, for fear of a spade shift, when the defenders might set that suit up. He must win; but in which hand? The answer is to win in dummy to protect South’s entries to the hearts. But the shortage of entries to the South hand means that the routine play in hearts will not succeed. South can set up hearts but won’t be able to reach them.

Instead, South can solve his problem by overtaking the heart king with dummy’s ace. He next leads the heart jack to force out the queen. East refuses this trick, and declarer continues with dummy’s heart 10.

East must take the heart queen, and can lead the spade 10. South is now in complete control, and can eventually return to his hand with the club ace to cash the last two hearts. He takes four hearts, one spade, and two tricks in each minor.

This hand is nowhere near as good as it looks. You should simply raise to two spades, a real game try if not in competition, and be quite content with that. Remember, partner occasionally has only three spades for this auction – and may well be quite weak.


♠ A 7 6 5
 A K 5 2
♣ K 8 7 3
South West North East
    Pass 1
Dbl. Pass 1 ♠ 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


Jeff SMay 12th, 2017 at 2:12 pm

It appears the last two paragraphs in the text flip the board – North has the hearts and East has the QH. I like the hand though, mostly because I am not used to being able to solve them this late in the week!

It looks like the contract cannot be defeated as long as neither defender has five hearts (with or without the Q) and even then, we are still home if there happens to be a 6-1 split with a singleton Q.

Or maybe I should have just stopped talking after my first paragraph? (Better to stay silent and be thought a fool…)

bobby wolffMay 12th, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Hi Jeff S,

Anyone as passionate about bridge as you, will never be thought of as a fool, especially by me.

And speaking of fools, the column confusing East with West is unforgivable and why and how it gets through me and the other proofreaders merely, from perhaps an optimistic viewpoint, confronts the many important details which the attempt at playing and reporting good bridge, confronts.

Perhaps the human mind, in its search for correct answers and their reporting, gets ahead of itself, too often clumsily, causing error.

In any event, thanks for writing. Your intense interest is always appreciated.

jim2May 12th, 2017 at 7:43 pm

With MY luck, a very cunning East would have been dealt the Q7 of hearts.

jim2May 12th, 2017 at 7:45 pm

Sorry, I meant a very unimaginative East.

Michael BeyroutiMay 12th, 2017 at 8:31 pm

I am starting to believe that TOCM stands for:
Tales Of a Cursed Masochist.
(yes, whether it be with East or with West YOU won’t make more than three heart tricks!)

bobby wolffMay 13th, 2017 at 2:15 am

Hi Jim2,

I guess you selected the 7 of hearts to accompany the Ace letting East (or West) know that it represents his luck when declarer decides to overtake the king.

bobby wolffMay 13th, 2017 at 2:16 am

Hi Jim2,

Sorry, I meant the queen!

bobby wolffMay 13th, 2017 at 2:18 am

Hi Michael,

If left to the NY Times, tomorrow’s headline may scream: Trump offends courageous media.

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