Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 14th, 2017

Canada is the essence of not being. Not English, not American, it is the mathematic of not being. And a subtle flavour — we’re more like celery as a flavour.

Mike Myers

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


Ben Zeidenberg is a Canadian who represented his country as a junior. Today’s deal came up in a world junior qualifying event, and it is the sort of example where it is easy to play too fast, and regret your haste later. At the table Ben had not been tipped off that this was a challenging deal, but he still found the right play when it really counted.

The contract of four spades had been reached after some optimistic bidding from Zeidenberg’s partner – but after all, what is new when you are a junior?

In four spades Ben received the lead of the heart ace, and West then accurately switched to a diamond. Dummy’s 10 won the trick, and Zeidenberg ran the spade 10 to the ace.

West gave his partner a diamond ruff, and on this trick Ben carefully unblocked the diamond king, a necessary move to set the stage for the marked finesse in diamonds. Now a second heart came back, won in dummy. Ben than ran all the trump, finishing in hand. As you can see, the thoughtful unblock in diamonds now allowed him to take the diamond finesse. He could therefore reach a two-card ending in which dummy had the eight of hearts and the club queen, while declarer had two clubs in hand. East, who had sole guard of both clubs and hearts, was forced to keep two hearts and thus come down to the singleton king of clubs, so declarer scored his club 10 at trick 13.

The jump to four clubs shows game-going values (approximately an opening bid) with real spade support and a singleton or possibly a void in clubs. You have a minimum in high cards and are not quite worth a Blackwood enquiry, since even facing two aces you cannot count 12 tricks. I’d cuebid four diamonds and hope partner can take control.


♠ K Q J 5 3
 K 7 3
♣ A 10 8 4
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 4 ♣ 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


jim2July 28th, 2017 at 1:26 pm

It was late in the session at the Mud Cup when this hand came up. I sat North and decided my hand was worth game only if my heart king pulled its weight. The only way to assure that – or so I Hideously reasoned – was not to have it skewered on the opening lead.

So I bid 3N.

I was dismayed to see the the QH opening lead, but I gritted my teeth and ducked. The 9H followed and I had to decide which black suit to give up on, and chose clubs, so pitched the 4C.

Would West play the AH? I resolved to win the KH in any case. West spared me the decision by winning the AH and returned yet a third heart to my KH as I pitched the 8C from the board.

I started spades, West won AS, and fired a club through, going to East’s JC and my AC.

I needed 10 tricks to beat the others in 4S, and the easiest route seemed to be four diamond tricks. Thus, I had to drop the QD or find it in the West hand. There was just room for East to hold Qx, so I could only hope TOCM ™ would not get me (again!). This time, however, all passed well as I cashed the KD and took the finesse, then back to run the spades and finesse again.

Ten tricks, and so pard did not ask me aloud why I had not supported spades. Whew!

bobby wolffJuly 28th, 2017 at 2:40 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, a tale told honestly and thoughtfully.

However, in your effort to protect the king of hearts from what you thought could be immediate death, the irony which afflicts good bridge often, the column declarer, in essence took the equivalent of two hearts tricks from both the king and the threat of the eight, therefore debunking your right side theory.

Is it nice or is it horrid to know that TOCM still haunts and taunts you? Yes, it hurts your bridge esteem with so many “unlucky” results, but still extra publicity is more fashionable than less, so having your disease has its virtues.

However the bad news is that yes, your actual result, put pause to your partner’s criticism of your selection of contract, but your now public story visually put paid to that advantage.

Only suggesting that TOCM (at least for you) is always present, even when your finesses work.

GinnyJuly 28th, 2017 at 4:49 pm

If West leads the 9 of clubs at trick 2 (signaled for by East?), is there a counter? If East’s Jack (or King) is allowed to win, a diamond back looks difficult. Is this too much double dummy analysis?

bobby wolffJuly 28th, 2017 at 5:21 pm

Hi Ginny,

Yes, yes and no.

No doubt the switch to a club provides the defense the upper hand since declarer must (as you infer) duck and a diamond back plays partner West for the ace of trump, but let the winner explain and you have won that honor.

The ability to analyze correctly is the #1 ingredient to become a very adept player and you qualify. Here is hoping that you take that intellectual talent and parlay it into a very successful bridge career, if you haven’t already.

Thanks for writing and mentioning what could be done, which in turn, may enable others to better visualize defensive ways to establish extra tricks.