Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 14th, 2017

I don’t want anyone to look to me, not for protection, not for happiness, not for love, not for anything.

P. D. James

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


It is almost always right to reopen the bidding when dealer opens and the auction dies on the first round. If the opponents belonged in game, they would surely not have stopped at the one level. The hand almost surely belongs to you, or the limit of the deal is a partscore for the opponents.

In any event, South has plenty in hand for his reopening action today. When North shows a high card raise of spades, South bids game. He may not make it, but he might as well bid it and find out the hard way.

After leading a top heart, West shifts to the club queen. Now South is threatened with the loss of a heart, a club, and two diamonds. What can be done to avoid that?

Declarer must try to establish one of dummy’s hearts as the 10th trick; but it will need a little defensive assistance. Declarer ducks the club queen, and now to set the game East must overtake and shift to diamonds. When, instead, he encourages on the queen, South wins the next club and ruffs a club. Then he draws trump ending in dummy, and leads the heart 10, throwing away a sure loser in diamonds.

West can win, but is endplayed. He does best to lead a low heart, forcing declarer to guess whether to put up the nine. South should do so: not only might East have acted with as few as four or five points, he would surely have covered the heart 10 on the second round, to set the game.

Since your partner can hardly have more than a five- or six- count and pass throughout, your chances of setting the game are limited. Are you going to lead diamonds and play partner for a card in that suit – when a low diamond might be best – or lead a club honor and hope to find partner with length there? I vote for a low diamond at pairs, the club jack at teams.


♠ A 8 4
 7 3
 Q J 9 5 2
♣ K J 4
South West North East
    Pass Pass
1 1 Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 NT All 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


Iain ClimieAugust 28th, 2017 at 9:02 am

Hi Bobby,

I haven’t read the column yet (it just popped up) but I’m more concerned about the follds which have just hit Texas; are you, Judy, friends and relations all OK?



Iain ClimieAugust 28th, 2017 at 9:03 am

Floods ….

jim2August 28th, 2017 at 2:47 pm

IIRC, he now lives in Vegas area.

bobby wolffAugust 28th, 2017 at 3:25 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, I was born in San Antonio, TX about 200 miles due West of Houston and my mother’s family was all from Houston. However Judy and family were all from Philadelphia, many miles (almost 2000) Northeast.

However, in my case, almost all, if not all of my mother’s family have long since gone since I was the youngest child in my family and which, at least in my case and many others to whom I know, it is not unusual in the USA for over time, to lose association and thus closeness, as one and he (or she) have traveled far away, leaving roots to shift on their own.

I do appreciate your concern as, according to reports, this storm has produced the worst floods ever in Texas and/or perhaps anywhere else, but I would not even know where to start to find anyone, still left alive, (not perishing in the storm, but just by earlier attrition).

The above, thanks to you, only serves to allow me to understand the different cultural ways of life, which seem to dictate behavior in certain specific countries and their significant differences.

I am (or was) the youngest in my overall immediate family with, of course, my parents and an older brother (a fanatical bridge player, and a successful lawyer who was a partner with my father in his law firm) and my first excellent bridge partner while learning the game 70 years ago. When he married in 1956, to a charming (Atlantic City, New Jersey girl) he decided for the sake of preserving his marriage to give up the game (an amazing story in itself) rather than maintain interest in a game he dearly loved (and wrote a bridge book summarizing in detail all the bridge systems in vogue with the USA bridge elite in the 1950s).

Both Walter and Sandy (his beloved wife) died two years ago, both in their eighties, and only 59 days apart, no doubt, accomplishing his life’s goal along the way, a hugely successful and painfully ethical lawyer, husband and father.

Yes, cultures are different as is life itself, which in turn, makes it more difficult to adjust to other’s ways of life. I guess and through the years these life styles (specific religions often playing a significant part, but not in my case)
separate habits, emphasis, and of course, general beliefs. Much too often differences, leading to horrible violence and thus wars, have resulted, with not much prospect of material change.

Love and understanding for your fellow man (or woman) is the answer, but not nearly often enough to make the big difference. The playing of bridge, particularly on a world wide basis, creates respect, the one necessary word for different cultures to survive.

When world bridge tournaments occur, at the end, when the dust has settled around who won the different events, the gathering together at the Victory celebration was always a major highlight in my long life, until age interfered with my participation. All present, applauded the winners (and its National Anthem), regardless of their nationalities and it indeed was a spectacular moment in my life, regardless of where my pair or team finished.

Sorry for the long rant but I do sincerely appreciate (with awe) for your concern and consummate love for good friends, although continuously separated by very large ocean(s).

Judy and I, of course, send our love.


Judy Kay-WolffAugust 28th, 2017 at 4:00 pm

Hi Iain,

Sunday was a hectic day and despite an early morning appointment, I overslept. Just as I saw your email and was about to respond, Bobby came into the room and urged me to read AOB for today. So I did .. and immediately understood his request.

Bobby’s reply said it all. We are happily residing in Las Vegas .. far away from the Lone Star State. I was deeply touched by your sincere concern for our safety and that of Bobby’s loved ones. Though separated by a huge ocean, I appreciate and enjoy your participation in AOB but of greater importance, value you as a friend.

Iain ClimieAugust 28th, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Hi Bobby, Judy,

Good to hear all this, and I could (and maybe should) have checked up your Wikipedia entry first but charged in. My thoughts are with those in the affected areas, of course.

One merit of the UK is that the weather is generally dull but there are occasional exceptions e.g. huge floods in East Anglia oin the 1950s. The supposed ancient curse (probably written by a 19th century Victorian novelist) about living in interesting times loses its humour when they actually occur.



Iain ClimieAugust 28th, 2017 at 6:24 pm

HI again Bobby,

In happier vein, can I ask your opinion on a lead problem where things went horribly wrongg last Friday? YOu hold Kxx Jx AJ9xxx Jx and the oppo (playing 4 card majors and not 2 over 1) bid (unitterupted) 1S 2D 2S 2N Pass. Yuk, to say the least, but any thoughts on what to lead and why?



Bobby WolffAugust 28th, 2017 at 8:26 pm

Hi Iain,

By default, I would lead my 4th best diamond.

Obviously it is possible that my RHO was not bidding his best suit, say Kxx or even weaker in order to keep away from an original diamond lead and while that may or may not be so, the other two possibilities hearts and clubs have minus incentive since leading from an unsupported jack (no ten) is fraught with trouble.

As is almost always the case when opening leads are the topic, any choice may work, but I do think a small diamond will turn out right more than any others.

Good luck on your next delicate opening lead choice.

Iain ClimieAugust 28th, 2017 at 9:22 pm

Hi Bobby,

After much squirming, I felt that RHOwoudln’tg have 4C (unless she had 5+ diamonds) but might have 4H and that a spade lead (from only 3) would just help declarer unless she had a singleton. In desperation I tried the CJ whihc was partly right: RHO had 10x Q8xx KQ10x Axx/ Unfortunately dummy held SAQ9xx HKxx Dx CQ109x and partner for some reason covered the CQ. If he ducks, we might have a cchance but delarer led the S10 which I covered (wrongly – it could have been singleton, but doeesn’t make any difference as the cards lie) and declarer just set up the spades. Partner won the 3rd and tried a diamond lead througfh but a foul score dutifully ensued. If partner ducks the CQ, and I go up with the SK on the 10 we have some chance, or if pard had (say) CK108x we’d have been fine although Hamman’s law clearly applies! The diamond doesn’t work that well (I was sorely tempted) so only a heart works but who could find that? It was one of those nights where we had the manure equivalent of the Midas touch.

There again, it was still an enjoyable evening with a nice guy who could see the funny side; I didn’t play a hand as declarer until the 22nd (of 27) hands.