Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 30th, 2017

There will be time to audit The accounts later, there will be sunlight later, And the equation will come out at last.

Louis MacNeice

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


After the overcall of two no-trump by West to show the minors, North’s three spade call suggested the shape and values for a simple spade raise. With a better hand North could double to show defense, or cuebid three clubs or three diamonds. One of those bids shows hearts and a good hand, one a limit raise in spades. That lets a direct three heart call be non-forcing.

Against four spades West led the heart two, to the nine and ace. Dummy’s diamond length was very bad news, but declarer did his best by drawing trump ending in dummy. He now needed to build the diamonds into an extra trick – but he was still in danger of running out of trumps.

So at trick five South led the club four. The idea was to keep East off lead if humanly possible, so declarer needed him to have only one club honor — or to make a mistake by failing to put up a high card from a holding such as Q10xx.

When East played low on the first club declarer inserted the nine. West won cheaply and returned a club to the ace. Declarer countered with the diamond queen, hoping to get lucky and find East with a significant singleton – the nine or jack. After winning his diamond king, West could see that a diamond return would be fatal. So he led back a club. Dummy ruffed, while declarer discarded the heart four from hand. Now South ran the diamond eight round to West’s jack, and claimed the rest.

Did you fall into the trap of raising spades or cuebidding in a search for slam? You shouldn’t, because this auction doesn’t really promise spade support – partner would follow this route with a doubleton. You should rebid three no-trump here, expecting your partner to pick whichever game he considers appropriate. In the context of what you have already shown, you are as balanced as you could be.


♠ K Q 10 8 2
 A 4
 A Q 10 3
♣ A 9
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT Pass
3 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


Iain ClimieOctober 14th, 2017 at 10:25 am

Hi Bobby,

Nicely done by South and the spirit of Terence Reese will (once again) be griping about weak two suited overcalls handing declarer a blueprint on how to play the hand. Yet I realised it was that time of year again, so I checked your Wikipedia entry. Many happy returns on your 85th birthday and many thanks for keeping the coiumn as fresh, stimulating and enjoyable as ever. Shades of “home, home on the range” – where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and probably never from you; the tolerance and friendship you display to all comers are amazing and very much appreciated. Can I also offer a suggestion (in lieu of a proper present) regarding getting bridge into schools.

I used to play at school (just at lunchtimes) and there was a general familiarity amongst my generation with whist and related card games such as Black Maria. Getting parents to teach their kids whist, and thus develop numeracy and concentration plus a feel for how cards interact, could be a useful first step for many while I’ve known bridge teachers suggest that too much emphasis goees on bidding and not enough on play. It doesn’t clash with ideas like Minibridge but could be a stepping stone to it; I hope this is of some use.

Have a great day and I look forward to the many more columns to come.



David WarheitOctober 14th, 2017 at 10:52 am

Happy birthday, Bobby, and many more. It is such a pleasure seeing someone of your age making such a positive difference in so many people’s lives.

A V Ramana RaoOctober 14th, 2017 at 11:21 am

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
I Join others in wishing you a very Happy Birthday & Many more Happy returns of the day. I really enjoy your column both for the Bridge Hand and equally for the Quotation. You have a veritable Treasure house of Quotations indeed
& Coming to today’s hand, once south finds west with singletons ( Heart deuce lead is a marked singleton), west’s hand is 1-1-5-6 virtually or1-1-4-7( slightly remote) & perhaps he should lead a small diamond from dummy. East’s singleton could be K as well. & if east has any two cards above ten in clubs, south is doomed anyway and hope for the actual lay out. He passes ten of diamonds to west who returns a club- If it is low and east puts up Q, south wins and endplays west with club. Now if west returns a diamond, South sails home straightaway and if he returns a club, dummy ruffs while south disposes his heart loser and leads a diamond promoting a trick

Bobby WolffOctober 14th, 2017 at 2:03 pm

Hi Iain,

A multiple thanks and appreciation for (1) your birthday wishes and extremely kind words, (2) your continued well thought out ideas and ways to implement them, and (3) great cheer and keen humor which, no doubt, all readers love and keeps our sometimes serious bridge talk on a low enough level for it appear to be spoon fed, and not forced down the gullet.

Without your and various other key character’s input, we would not have the off-the-charts influence in convincing others just how much bridge can positively add to much mind development as well as scintillating personal satisfaction.

Add to the above, the underrated comment you made, concerning the defensive bidding sometimes providing a blueprint, on today’s hand, for the declarer success, you resonate the dichotomy of what competition in bridge is all about. You gotta give to get (a possible good minor suit contract), but sometimes when you do, it bites back and in a place which hurts.

Your early association with playing cards, courtesy of your bringing up, is concrete evidence that in no way are playing cards only “Tickets of the Devil”. Like many other sometimes controversial enterprises, it is not the specific adventure itself which is dangerous, it will only depend on the intent, implementation and follow through.

In return for your birthday wishes, let me, along with Judy, return to you and your marvelous real and extended family much love and thanks for becoming a crucial part of our team, without which, our group could not fulfill the promise of what, I hope, we all feel.

Bobby WolffOctober 14th, 2017 at 2:31 pm

Hi David,

Your words, though perhaps an overbid, are so sincerely appreciated that I (ever the loose lips), are at a loss to adequately reply.

No doubt our whole team, consisting of many nationalities, various thought processes emanating from many ways of life, are, in truth, an example of the World Bridge Federation’s principle motto, “Bridge for Peace”.

It seems a blessing to me, that all of our posters have basically kept to their own personalities, contributed their worthwhile thoughts while, no doubt responding well and often eloquently to others. At the same time, they maintained a fierce respect for the group in general by almost no direct criticism, only (on occasion) some humorous banter, but almost all directed to sound ideas about analysis as well as opinions on what is a possible better bridge related mousetrap and its wide encompassing implications, such as its value, continuation, dangers, variances in emphasis, and just the thrill associated with playing.

We have developed to the status of being a family and even better than that, since we have all been dealt the ability to temporarily (I hope) just leave, when necessary, without even having to offer an excuse.

Bobby WolffOctober 14th, 2017 at 2:58 pm


Yes and no doubt, declarer would be better placed to lead his first diamond from the dummy, in case East had the king (although unlikely), but, alas declarer has no convenient entry to dummy (the 4th trump is vitally needed later) and East is less likely (at least IMO) to hold the king than the jack.

Much thanks for your birthday congratulations, although being reminded of my age might convince me that I do not feel as well as I actually still do. However, since our group gets me up early in the morning, for whatever reason that early rising has seemed to make me feel even better. However I think I should stick to bridge, rather than to give medical advice about what is best.

Also thanks about your comments on the used quotations with the column. To that I’ll only say that there are at least several good books, full of famous quotations, but the one fact that stands out to me, is how bridge, perhaps more than any other competition, lends itself to the wisdom of the author, perhaps because bridge being the mind game that it is, is ripe for that,

However a continued mystery to me is that when the famous Bard, William Shakespeare and perhaps 400+ years ago, almost surely played some form of bridge as seemingly to me so many of his quotes directly apply to some important aspect of our game.

Obviously, it is just my imagination since I do not believe bridge or any of its closely related gambits and coups occurred in other games, but perhaps that tells us that the playing of our game is very closely related to life, as most of us know and envision it, another plus for it to play a greater influence in being associated with it during our life spans.

Finally, by your bridge posts, there is absolutely no doubt, and by your descriptive words, that you vitally love our game. Please, never stop since, by your feelings, you will always be a superior ambassador to all those close to you and ones you will later get to know.

Peter PengOctober 14th, 2017 at 3:52 pm

From Brazil – Feliz Aniversário!

Will be back soon but forgot anything I ever knew about The Game…

Bobby WolffOctober 14th, 2017 at 4:27 pm

Hi Peter,

Hurray back! Our bridge blogging family needs your input. BTW, while Brazil is not what is known as a wildly playing bridge community, it has produced many bridge World Champions, regarded as some of the best players ever.

Happy trails and we await your questions and answers.

Robb GordonOctober 14th, 2017 at 5:14 pm

You are an inspiration to actively ethical bridge players of all ages. Save the 2032 Blue Ribbon Pairs for me!

Yom Huledet Sameach!

Bobby WolffOctober 14th, 2017 at 6:43 pm

Hi Robb,

Much thanks and gratitude for your compliment, but it may very well be an overbid.

Your invitation is gracious and all I can offer is, “maybe”. However it does remind me of long ago when I asked a pretty girl for a hot date, but she respectfully declined, no doubt thinking that she might have a headache.

Gloria S RabinowitzOctober 14th, 2017 at 6:47 pm

Happy happy Birthday Bobby. Try to make it a special day, even if I’m not there. Miiss you.

Patrick CheuOctober 14th, 2017 at 7:16 pm

Hi Bobby,Happy Birthday and thanks for inspiring us to become not just better bridge players but better human beings.Regards~Patrick.

ClarksburgOctober 14th, 2017 at 9:30 pm

Happy Birthday Bobby
This Blog is a very special place, reflecting your love of Bridge, your patience and willingness to educate all of us, and your values and ethics.
When I turn my computer on every morning, this is where I go first!

MarthaOctober 15th, 2017 at 5:21 am

I would like to wish you a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY, I hope you did something special today. Wishing you a year filled with many happy times.

Lee McGovernOctober 15th, 2017 at 6:12 am

Happy birthday from Catalonia!

Shantanu RastogiOctober 15th, 2017 at 6:29 am

Happy birthday Mr Wolff

Best regards

Shantanu Rastogi

Bobby WolffOctober 15th, 2017 at 5:55 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

Yes, I do love bridge, but particularly so when people like you take such a convincing and compelling interest in merely trying to become the best player you can.

No doubt, bridge, for many, provides a life full of competitive excitement and a productive way to make use of one’s mind, whether for the game itself, or instead to think and continue to feel younger.

Don’t ever stop your community service for both the benefit of the game itself, and more specifically to reap the rewards of satisfaction for being a major contributor to promote it.

Bobby WolffOctober 15th, 2017 at 5:58 pm

Hi Martha,

Thanks for your birthday greetings and happy trails to you for all you do in Las Vegas and for all the places you love to visit.

Bobby WolffOctober 15th, 2017 at 6:01 pm

Hi Lee,

Thanks for the birthday wish and all the way from Catalonia.

Bobby WolffOctober 15th, 2017 at 6:06 pm

Hi Shantanu,

I appreciate both your birthday wishes and for your frequent bridge questions on our site.

Everyone who reads your posts should appreciate both your opinions and above all your pleasant presentations.

Bobby WolffOctober 15th, 2017 at 6:09 pm

Hi Gloria,

Thanks for your birthday wish, but how can I really appreciate it, if you are not here. Both Judy and I miss your inspiring presence.

Bobby WolffOctober 15th, 2017 at 6:13 pm

Hi Patrick,

Thanks for your inspiring tribute, and just perhaps I can help with bridge tips, but how could anyone improve you as a person?

barbara hammanOctober 15th, 2017 at 9:36 pm

dear bobby:

You’ve still got that twinkle! Oops or did I mean winkle?

Wishing you the best on your BD.


Bobby WolffOctober 16th, 2017 at 6:48 pm

Hi Barbara,

When you reach my age you mean crinkle as in creekel.

Which Bad Decision do your mean? I’ve made a bunch of them.

Glad you used an H rather than a B.


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MichaelOctober 19th, 2017 at 3:24 am

Regards. An abundance of stuff.