Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant.

Salvador Dali

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


When Bobby Goldman died suddenly, 20 years ago, he and Paul Soloway had been one of the dominant partnerships in the US for many years. Today’s deal exemplifies his talents.

At the Macallan Invitation Pairs tournament in the United Kingdom you would expect the top 16 pairs in the world to generate the occasional spectacular play, but in its own way I think the following example is outstanding. The play is typical of the brilliancies that the analysts might suggest in the post mortem, but on this occasion Goldman found the play at the table.

When Christian Mari of France reached three no-trump as South, he ducked the opening heart lead and continuation, and won the third round. Since he assumed that East was favorite to hold the diamond ace, he decided he needed to try to play the club suit for five tricks. This would require finding West with the singleton jack. So he went over to dummy with a spade and led the club queen, covered by the club king and ace, under which Bobby Goldman obediently contributed the club jack!

You can hardly blame Mari for crossing to dummy with a second spade to repeat the club finesse, can you? When Goldman produced the nine and played a third round of spades, he had succeeded in setting up the 13th spade as the defense’s fifth winner, before declarer had established the diamond suit for his own ninth trick.

The false-card had gained the critical tempo to set the game.

Your partner’s double is responsive – it applies after the raise of opener’s suit but not after a new suit bid by your LHO. It is for take-out, but the double of a heart call tends to deny spades, since your partner would bid them if he had them. You should simply bid your cheaper, not stronger, minor. So bid three clubs.


♠ A Q 5
 8 5
 K Q 8 3
♣ Q 8 6 4
South West North East
Dbl. 2 Dbl. 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


Bill CubleySeptember 17th, 2017 at 1:58 am

Bobby and Malcolm Brachman played in a mid 1980s Reno Regional.
Brachman overcalled 1 spade with 2 hearts. He held S AQTXX, H AKQ65 D xx C x. He wound up declaring 3NT with no entry to dummy.

West lead a spade which was won. Wondering what to do next he led the 5 of hearts. West’s hearts were JT9874. North held the three of hearts and East held the 2 of hearts. West played the 4!

East eventually told Brachman he won the trick! Bobby almost fell off his chair laughing and proclaiming he had never seen such a play! The defense gave I’m a dummy entry and the unmakeable contract sailed home for a top!

Now isn’t this better than me finding an impossible way to pitch dummy’s 5 hearts so I could make seven diamonds? I set up the 4-1 club suit.

bobby wolffSeptember 17th, 2017 at 2:19 pm

Hi Bill,

Yes, Memories are made of this, and although hazy indeed, perhaps we should call the deuce, three, four, all succumbing to the five, should be called a “wish trick”.

Just thinking about such a thing makes me feel all Cubley.

If Malcolm was still alive, my guess is that he would have loved to fill in the details of what was on his mind at that time.

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