Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, November 4th, 2017

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Willie Nelson

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



Part of Goldilocks’ rent payment, apart from an extended duty cleaning dishes, is listening to the convoluted stories that the Three Bears bring back from the bridge club.

When this deal was played at their club, all three were sitting East, so they had the chance to compare results over the next morning’s porridge.

Papa Bear had seen nothing of interest in the deal at all. “I was a little surprised to score below average here. My partner found his only decent lead of the night — a small club. I won my jack and continued the suit, then took the spade jack with my queen and continued the attack on clubs, but declarer won and eventually drove out my spade ace. Since there was no way to reach my partner’s hand, South came to nine tricks easily enough.”

Mama Bear told her story next. “If I had been lucky enough to win the first club, I would have known to shift to hearts to try to kill dummy’s entry, or even shift to diamonds. But South won the first trick and led a spade to the jack and my queen. He ducked the next club, and now it was too late for the defense.”

“Not at my table!” interrupted Baby Bear. “My partner also led a club. Declarer won the trick and led a spade to the jack, which I ducked. He crossed to hand in hearts and led a spade up, which I won and reverted to clubs. Declarer could set up a long heart, but still had only eight tricks, since he did not have the entries to establish spades.”

As a passed hand, you have more than enough to join in with two spades here. Because you passed rather than pre-empting on your first turn, you have already indirectly limited your hand and suit strength. The call of two spades here suggests a reasonable five-card suit and a moderate hand, and you have both, in that your three-card club tolerance gives partner an escape route if necessary.


♠ K J 10 9 7
 K 7 5
 9 2
♣ 7 6 4
South West North East
Pass 1 2 ♣ 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


Bill CubleyNovember 18th, 2017 at 3:39 pm


Luv the quote! Please wish us luck and a fair game in the D7 NAP. Last year, despite 12 director calls by me, the next table sending us opponents was 2 minutes – 6 minutes late every round. The director would not find they were disrupting the event.

Michael BeyroutiNovember 18th, 2017 at 4:08 pm

Maybe Papa and Mama Bear were afraid that that spade trick could be declarer’s ninth. How could they tell?

bobbywolffNovember 18th, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Hi Bill,

Great luck, Bill (just to insure receiving at least good).

However instead of wasting energy worrying about opponents who are a little bit late, (still better than late opponents, the kind that lasts longer than 2-6 minutes) it is up to you and partner to do the disrupting of the tournament yourselves, by winning it all!!!!

Judy & I will be rooting for you to be the 2nd mouse and, of course, say “cheese” to the photographer.

bobbywolffNovember 18th, 2017 at 7:59 pm

Hi Michael,

I could answer your straight-on pertinent question by some general random answer, but I’d rather try and be more truthful and just explain what I think.

You could be right, but on hands of this sort, and according to the bidding, declarer will most times, need several tricks, especially from a decent suit in dummy, so, if in fact, he needed only one (without taking the time to reconstruct all possibilities) experience will strongly (at least IMO) indicate the far more accurate possibility, that he needed more than one.

No doubt there are hands, usually when declarer has a solid or almost, long suit in which he intends to “surprise” the defense (here, it would be diamonds, his opening bid), but the lurking queen with East, tends to disclaim that possibility, but, if, in fact that comes to pass, all a defender can do is apologize to whomever is interested and move on.

However, nothing will dispute that your question needs discussion and at least some opinions, rather than sweep that line of defense under the rug.

If, in fact, you have the time, I think you will find a justified holding, based on the bidding, that has declarer with a six card diamond suit to probably the AKJ and maybe even a singleton spade, although most of those hands may have South choose to rebid 3NT rather than just 2.

Thanks for writing and more importantly, your worthwhile imagination, which conjures up your doubts.

bobbywolffNovember 19th, 2017 at 2:28 pm

Hi again Michael,

Hours later, upon re-reading our conversation, it is also possible (probable) if declarer only needed one spade trick for a possible make, he would have played the king from dummy, not the jack.

Granted, the defender was not allowed 12 hours to make his play decision (duck the jack), but that rule may be waived (say I), particularly when that gambit may be the strongest evidence of declarer’s intention.

Is bridge a great game, or what?