Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 8th, 2018

Those who have improved life by the knowledge they have found out … round the brows of all these is worn a snow white band.


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


Bobby Fischer’s now-famous chess dictum is that when you have seen a good move, you should look for a better one. Today’s deal exemplifies this. South opened one no-trump, North raised to game, ignoring his club suit, and West led the spade queen.

Declarer correctly observed that there would be a painless nine tricks if the club finesse succeeded, but if it failed, a switch to hearts by East might be highly uncomfortable.

Given that it was rubber bridge, it struck declarer that there was no need to take the club finesse. Playing the ace would gain if East held the singleton king, and even if West came to an undeserved trick with the king, the play of a spade, heart or diamond would give South his ninth trick.

Pleased with his analysis, declarer won the lead on the table and cashed the club ace, then continued with another club. East won and might have continued spades had West not guessed to discard the spade eight, prompting East to switch to the heart jack. When the finesse failed, the defenders cleared hearts and West discarded correctly, leaving declarer with only eight tricks when the diamond finesse failed.

The idea of playing the ace and another club was a good one, but South missed an even better play. Once both opponents follow to the club ace, a finesse of the diamond 10 absolutely guarantees the ninth trick. Whichever suit West chooses to return brings in an extra trick. Only then does declarer establish the clubs.

Dummy is surely going to have long hearts and a near Yarborough, since it could not bid over one no-trump. The most passive lead I can see here is a top club, since a spade or diamond lead might easily pick up an honor in partner’s hand that declarer could not negotiate for himself. Even if partner has the club ace, the club lead may not end up costing a trick.


♠ Q 3
 Q 10 6
 9 7 4
♣ Q J 9 8 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♠ Dbl.
1 NT Pass Pass 2
Pass 2 Pass 3
All 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieJanuary 22nd, 2018 at 3:39 pm

Hi Bobby,

Welcome back and a nice hand. taking the D finesse before the CA doesn’t work of course, but it is still slightly counter-intuitive.



bobbywolffJanuary 22nd, 2018 at 4:21 pm

To every one of our often heard from cherished friends and bridge lovers.

We sincerely apologize for our site being down for so long and, of course, in reality, for us all to not be able to communicate on the game we adore. If I could tell you why it happened, I, of course would, but since I am about as mechanical as a bar of soap, suffice it to say, our talented guru, John Goold, worked feverishly, overcoming family illness and finally, in spite of considerable pressure, found the winning solution.

In any event, welcome back from our forced vacation and although on today’s hand we could certainly handle all three adverse clubs in West’s hand, by eventually settling for only 4 club tricks, but end playing West in diamonds after eliminating his clubs but with all three clubs in East’s hand then win the Ace and again end playing West in diamonds before knocking out the king of clubs.

If this hand shows nothing else, it shouts out to the significant advantage of looking at all one’s assets as declarer, then locating the resilience lurking, instead of the difficult guesses, often only available to the less advantaged defense.

Just more evidence to suggest that bridge is definitely a bidder’s game.


Judy & Bobby

bobbywolffJanuary 22nd, 2018 at 4:31 pm

Hi Iain,

Thanks for your post.

Obviously our thoughts crossed in the mail with yours briefly summing up all that was important in today’s hand.

No doubt I missed, more than I ever knew, just how much all the bridge talk meant to me.

Jeff SJanuary 22nd, 2018 at 4:43 pm

Good solution to today’s hand. I went a different route cashing the club A and then clearing spades myself so West ends up on lead, but that could backfire if West was taking a shot at hitting partner’s suit with his opening lead whereas your way is bulletproof.

Diamond finesse for the win!

bobbywolffJanuary 22nd, 2018 at 5:31 pm

Hi Jeff S,

Yes, the column line is probably the best line, but once in a great while all experienced bridge players will be confronted with an unlikely choice of opening lead against a basically blind auction (today for example).

However Damon Runyon, an American long ago clever writer who was sports oriented once said, “The race doesn’t always go to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that is the way to bet”.

And today there is a handling problem, if and when either West or East has all three clubs, but the post above may have found the proper way to make even that division foolproof, that is, if Runyon should be believed.

Jan 25, 2018 – 凝縮収斂January 24th, 2018 at 11:13 pm

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