Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Courage consists not in blindly overlooking danger, but in seeing it, and conquering it.

Jean Paul

E North
None ♠ A J 9 7
 K J 9 6 2
♣ A 9 2
West East
♠ 6 3
 K Q J 8 5 4 2
♣ Q 10 6 3
♠ 4 2
 A Q 10 7 5 3
♣ K J 7 5
♠ K Q 10 8 5
 10 9 7 6
 8 4
♣ 8 4
South West North East
1 ♠ 4 4 ♠ Dbl.
All pass      


When the USA women won the world Olympiad in 1996 they had to come back from a huge deficit against Austria; this was one of their big gains.

Both tables played four spades doubled here. At one table Jill Blanchard as West found the good shot of a trump lead. The Chinese declarer took this in hand and played the diamond eight. Blanchard ruffed and played a club, and now her partner Irina Levitina could get in to play a second trump. Declarer could no longer establish a diamond trick, and declarer had just seven trump tricks, a club and a heart.

In the other room Juanita Chambers got a top heart lead and advanced the diamond jack from dummy. East pounced on that with the queen, but from here on in the defense could no longer set the contract. Although East could shift to a trump, declarer could build a diamond trick, using her diamond eight one way or another. But had East been able to bring herself to duck the first diamond, her partner could have ruffed and returned a trump, and now Chambers would have been one trick short as well.

Declarers should have crossed to hand with a trump at trick two to lead her LOW diamond. Now if West ruffs, the remaining diamond spots are good enough to establish a trick; if West discards, the play transposes into Chambers’ successful line. Should East win the first diamond and play back a low diamond for her partner to ruff, declarer can switch to a cross-ruff.

Sometimes it is best to bid what is in front of you. Your partner has suggested five good clubs (or maybe even a poor six-card suit) in a balanced 12-14 hand. If you were only allowed to make one bid wouldn’t you jump to six clubs? You might make a grand slam, or find the small slam was on a finesse, but here you should just settle for simplicity and bid the small slam.


♠ A J 9 7
 K J 9 6 2
♣ A 9 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♣ Pass
1 Pass 1 NT Pass
2 ♠ Pass 3 ♣ 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


A V Ramana RaoOctober 4th, 2017 at 11:22 am

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Since trumps are breaking, declarer could have prevailed by drawing second trump and leading eight of diamonds. He needs only one trick extra . He loses only two diamonds and a club. But then this is doubledummy observation. He would have gone down if trumps were not breaking but after the trump lead, perhaps declarer should hope for trump break and play as described

Iain ClimieOctober 4th, 2017 at 11:37 am

Hi Bobby,

Test contribution as I couldn’t blog yesterday (I wondered whether Fyodor Dostoevsky could have made a bridge player based on novels like Crime & Punishment, The Gambler, the Idiot && The Devils). There seems to be a mix-up on country today – was it China or Austria your ladies were playing?



Bobby WolffOctober 4th, 2017 at 11:48 am


Well analyzed, at least I think it is. Sometimes it is unusual as well as difficult, to spot an eventual trick which can be crucial in determining the result.

The same emphasis can be said for the defense, when their partnership also realizes a better way to prevent establishing that all important trick (this time Jill trumping the first diamond, even though she suspected that partner had at least the AQ). Of course, her partner Irina then followed her partner’s thoughts, by continuing trumps, when next on lead with a high diamond

If one is interested and competent in thoroughly analyzing a difficult hand, it can be explained as exercising excellent technique, a special compliment all top players like to hear.

Good bridge can be thought to be a combination of several talents, only one of which being called high-level technical ability.

However, when it is properly done, no one can, nor will, dispute its considerable value.

Bobby WolffOctober 4th, 2017 at 12:27 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, there seems to be a glitch in today’s column, whether the US women were playing against Austria or China in this 1996 World Team Olympiad. It may take a little time, and it may be somewhat difficult to accomplish, but I will attempt to follow-up, although since the US gained a swing with better defense, perhaps it would be more humane, especially since the other country TBD, slightly erred by winning the first diamond with the queen rather than allowing partner to trump it (not at all, an easy gambit)!

Even though I was there in Rhodes, Greek Islands in 1996, during that fateful tournament I, for the life of me, will have to research it before finding out. Making it more difficult could be that the Chinese women have been very strong for many years, but Austria back then was also a major force in both the Open and Women’s categories.

Yes, the famous Russian author, Dostoevsky, especially in his famous book, “Crime & Punishment” (the only one of the four I am somewhat familiar with) does come very close in emphasizing similar attributes, such as analysis, and the logical assumptions which follow, which are indigenous to both sophisticated bridge and crime solving, where logical mental reasoning are emphasized in arriving at conclusions.

It, of course, is a credit to your intellect in recognizing the similar ways of thinking, BTW, causing me, to want to read the other books you mention, which, no doubt, if you will excuse the expression, must follow suit.

A V Ramana RaoOctober 4th, 2017 at 12:38 pm

Thanks and Of course west should be complimented for ruffing that diamond ( I should have mentioned this in earlier comment)