Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 25th, 2017

It would have made a dreadfully ugly child; but it makes rather a handsome pig, I think.

Lewis Carroll

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

My favorite defense from last summer’s world junior championships in Salsomaggiore, Italy, occurred right at the end of the Youngsters final between Italy and the Netherlands.

Both tables bid in identical fashion to three spades, but in one room the Italian West led a top diamond from his sequence.

After seeing the dummy, he saw the need for a trump shift, but was already too late. Declarer could win in his hand and play another diamond. East overtook his partner’s jack to play a second trump, but declarer won in hand and could trump his losing diamond in dummy for his ninth trick and plus 140.

In the other room Leen Stougie as West found the incisive trump lead to trick one, working on the sound principle of leading trumps when you consider your side has the balance of high cards. Declarer, won in hand with the nine and led a diamond up. West made his second good play when he hopped up with the king to press on with trumps. Declarer won with his queen to play another diamond. However this time when West inserted the jack, it allowed East, Marc Stougie, to overtake with the queen to play a third trump. That disposed of the possibility of a diamond ruff in dummy.

Now declarer had to lose one heart, three diamonds and one club, to go one down.

That all added up to a 5 IMP gain for the Netherlands, but they lost the gold medal to Italy.

How many of you looked at your six-count and determined that since you had a minimum and partner had not competed, you should pass now? If so, go to the back of the class. When you have extra shape (the fifth trump) and decent values, you are well worth a two heart call. Partner always delivers an opening bid and heart tolerance, so you must bid your hand to the full.


♠ J 3 2
 K 8 7 5 2
 9 7
♣ Q 10 8
South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
1 2 Pass 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


Patrick CheuSeptember 8th, 2017 at 10:49 pm

Hi Bobby,They say defense is the hardest part of the game,this hand goes a long way to explain why starting on trick 1 and the play of the KD on the first round of diamonds..really instructive..thanks..regards~Patrick.

Bobby WolffSeptember 9th, 2017 at 6:15 am

Hi Patrick,

No doubt, the whole world class bridge contingent, (fewer than most believe) would vote, probably unanimously, that defense is by far the most difficult part of the game.

Explaining further, with both declarer’s play and defense, there will usually be an overall plan, but only on defense, where all 26 assets possessed (cards held) are not simultaneously seen by both defenders from the get go, while as declarer they are. Furthermore the defense has to communicate by legal code, where the declarer again has a decided advantage.

On defense, imagination is the key to defense and, again no doubt while the declarer is mentally and physically in control, the defenders have to read each other’s mind, based only on the evidence (bidding and the play up to then).

Thanks for allowing a description, and, of course, all bases are not covered, but the players themselves can put on the final touches (what you mentioned, rising with the king of diamonds) in order to win the day, or only just that hand.

However, that play will get plaudits from all who read about it, and that thrill can never be overestimated.