Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Practice and thought might gradually forge many an art.


N North
None ♠ 10
 A 10 6 5 4 2
♣ J 10 9 8 2
West East
♠ 9 5 4 2
 Q 9 7 5 4
♣ Q 6 4
♠ K J 8 7 3
 A K 8 2
 Q 7
♣ 5 3
♠ A Q 6
 J 6 3
 J 9 8 3
♣ A K 7
South West North East
    2 NT* 3 **
5 All pass    



Experts often play the hands better with the sight of only 26 cards than the commentators, who can study all 52 cards. At the World Championships in Paris in 2001, in the match between USA-I and Italy, the Italians bid unopposed to four hearts, and escaped for minus 100. In the other room Norberto Bocchi reached five diamonds as South, and Eric Rodwell found the killing heart lead.

But of course a ‘killing’ lead is in the eye of the beholder. Bocchi had heard East overcall to show the majors, so when Jeff Meckstroth shifted to a spade at trick two, Bocchi took what looks like a practice finesse of the queen. When it held, he cashed the spade ace and ruffed a spade, then took the diamond ace and used the top clubs as entries to eliminate the hearts. In the four-card ending he could exit to East with the second diamond.

At this point three tricks had been played in each major and two in each minor, and East had only major-suit cards to lead. Declarer could pitch his club loser from hand and ruff in dummy, to take 11 tricks and gain 7 IMPs. Beautifully played – and note that if Bocchi does not take the spade finesse at trick two, he runs out of trumps and entries to make the winning play.

This line was duplicated by Sabine Auken in the Women’s series in five diamonds – she also had the same information that East had a good hand with both majors, but it was still a very fine play.

Normally you bid with good hands and pass with bad ones. But here, although you have a 15-count, you have no guarantee of a real fit, and too much of your hand is in spades to take an aggressive position. You might balance with a double, but why shouldn’t partner have a flat Yarborough here?


♠ A Q 6
 J 6 3
 J 9 8 3
♣ A K 7
South West North East
  1 ♠ Pass 2 ♠

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