Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday May 5th, 2017

I don’t think necessity is the mother of invention — invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness. To save oneself trouble.

Agatha Christie

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

*transfer to hearts


Occasionally your feeling of satisfaction as dummy comes down can give way to a rude awakening when you run into a foul break. You may now need to apply the little grey cells, as Hercule Poirot would say, to try to find a lie of the cards that will let you recover.

In today’s deal West led the spade queen against six hearts, reached after some insouciant bidding from North. Declarer won and confidently led his low heart to the jack.

When East showed out, South looked unhappily at his trump nine, realizing that had this card been in dummy, the play for 12 tricks would have been relatively simple. Then again, if East had held the four trumps, the nine would have been in the right place.

Needing an endplay, South realized that West would have to hold at least three diamonds, so correctly played on that suit first. When West proved to have four cards in that suit, he ruffed his last diamond in dummy.

Now came the critical guess; West was known to have started with eight cards in the red suits, so declarer now had to decide in which black suit he would have three cards. Using the clue of the opening lead, South took the spade king and ruffed a spade.

Next came both top clubs and a third club. West did his best by ruffing in with the eight, but South underruffed in dummy, leaving West to lead from the K-10 of trumps at trick 12, while dummy held the guarded ace and South the queen; contract made!

Your partner’s call shows a maximum pass and heart fit. So how much is your hand worth? I wouldn’t drive to game, but I think I have enough to make a try. While a bid of three hearts is purely competitive, I am just about worth a call of three diamonds, a long-suit help try. That should let my partner decide whether to go to game or stop in three hearts (assuming the opponents let us).


♠ 7 6
 A J 6 5 4 2
 Q 7 3
♣ K J
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♣
1 1 ♠ 2 ♣ 2 ♠

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


slarMay 19th, 2017 at 6:00 pm

You asked for a report on my adventures in transfers-over-1C last night. The real issue is that I was playing in a very strong game. There were 32 tables overall and I was playing in an 8-table A/X game. I wouldn’t say I was outclassed but there was just not much margin for error. A number of Gold Life Masters didn’t scratch either.
The transfer system was not an issue although one pair took exception to it even though it has been allowed as part of this game for about 5 years.

Bobby WolffMay 19th, 2017 at 6:35 pm

Hi Slar,

Even though at times it will feel very frustrating, you are doing the right thing by playing as far “up” as possible.

The maturation of a bridge player is similar to osmosis, the more one is exposed to it, the quicker he will learn the whys and wherefores of what it is about. To go further, once the learning train begins to take form, the mere excitement of what it represents becomes thoroughly addictive, at least it does for the special ones who see and feel its challenge and therein its beauty. Time will tell you just how high you can reach, but, at the very least, give it a significant time chance before you decide to back off.

In turth, your report sounds hopeful and as for the pair who took exception to your transfer system, get used to that since older players like me, prefer tradition and comfort over having to think, rather than to at least attempt to earn their good scores.

Easy for me to say, since I am on your side in trying new bridge toys, but do not be bothered by criticism, especially when your partnership methods are approved.

Good luck and much thanks for your report, which perhaps will also be appreciated by most of our fellow ambitious AOB contributors.

slarMay 20th, 2017 at 12:26 am

A couple of things.
– I had a lot of fun in the game even though we didn’t scratch.
– Better bridge players tend to have stronger, more notable personalities.
– I generally think of the weekly games as practice. I try to do well, but mostly it is about improving myself so that the tournaments seem relatively easy in comparison.
– My two normal partners played together and cruised to a win in the 12-table B/C game. They are probably ready to move up too.

Bobby WolffMay 20th, 2017 at 12:36 am

Hi Slar,

Many years ago a significantly older friend and I opened a bridge club. A year or so later we started a Tuesday night game and called it a junior duplicate. It grew into an average of about 10 tables, with one particular pair of ladies winning all the time, about an average of four out of five times.

We finally talked them into playing on other nights because the players were more experienced and no doubt, at least a little better. Finally, many months later they tested that experiment and for the first time in at least a year finished under average.

From that night on, we never saw them again.

Live and learn, learn and live.

You must be a good teacher to have both your normal partners play together and win

slarMay 20th, 2017 at 2:49 pm

We all teach each other. They’ve both helped me plenty and I’d like to think I’ve helped them too. I insist on reviewing the hands after we’ve played and that has made a big difference in getting us all on the same page.