Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, October 28th, 2017

I have a lifetime appointment and I intend to serve it. I expect to die at 110, shot by a jealous husband.

Thurgood Marshall

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


This deal might represent some kind of record. I frequently used deals played by the giants of the game, but it is relatively rare to receive a deal that was played 80 years ago.

Tony Priday of England died a few years ago, having dominated the international scene in England through the seventies and eighties, and having then become a much respected non-playing captain. When he learned bridge at school the pupils used Mahjongg tiles in place of cards, regarded at that time as ‘the devil’s playthings’.

In today’s deal splinters were 30 years away from being invented. When North opened one spade, Priday was able to jump to four diamonds, natural and pre-emptive, and was raised to five diamonds.

When West led the club king, East made a thoughtful but catastrophic play when he overtook with the ace, hoping that he could lead a heart through declarer. However, Priday could ruff with the diamond six, then lead the trump seven to the ace, to find the bad news.

Undaunted, Priday saw that he would still be able to make his game so long as he could keep East off lead till spades were established. So he advanced the club jack and discarded a spade from hand. Since West was unable to attack hearts successfully, Priday could ruff out the spades, using a high trump again, then knock out the master trump. Now he could cross to the diamond three and discard two hearts from hand on the spades.

If you play 2/1 game forcing, you are already in a game force, of course. The two heart bid suggests weak length with no convenient call. You cannot bid no-trump without a stopper, and raising clubs would show three, so all that is left is a two spade call. This does not guarantee six, and at least your main values are here.


♠ A K 9 5 3
 8 4
 A 5 4 3
♣ J 7
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 2 ♣ Pass
2 Pass 2 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


jim2November 11th, 2017 at 2:31 pm

I would note that — without the over-take — declarer can discard a spade on the opening lead as a safety play.

Bobby WolffNovember 11th, 2017 at 3:58 pm

Hi Jim2,

No doubt a great effort by you. However the EW hands were: E. s. void, h. KJ1096532, d. Q, C. A1092 leaving W. with s. QJ1064, h. void, d. K, c. KQ86543 and after the club duck each defender then got a major suit ruff.

The bad news is that NS will make 6 diamonds if the opening lead is ruffed, but since at the other table EW bid to 7 clubs and made it after the lead of the king of spades (by ruffing out the ace, queen of hearts)

The irony of all of the above is that perhaps you are the only player who would, after ducking the first club (TOCM), run into that distribution, and also the only one to point out the best percentage line of play without the overtake.

And to deal with another issue, since both West and East knew they were vulnerable, neither entered the bidding, proving Al Roth’s famous quote,, “Vulnerability is for children”!

Just, at least to you, “another day, another dollar”.

Jeff SNovember 11th, 2017 at 4:13 pm

OTOH, if East refuses to overcall with eight hearts, a void and an outside ace, I think it is safe to say he is not exactly a strong player so by the end of the day, you’ll still come out on top, TOCM on this hand not withstanding. 🙂

Bobby WolffNovember 11th, 2017 at 4:25 pm

Hi Jeff S,

Absolutely, and to keep them from not overcalling, they must be told how right they are, not to step into the bidding with so few high cards.

The proper advertising can be great for the wallet.

jim2November 11th, 2017 at 8:49 pm

Our Dear Host did, indeed, try to make an eight call sacrifice once upon a time …