Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

There is no mistake; there has been no mistake; and there shall be no mistake.

Duke of Wellington

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

*Raise to 4 plus some defense


Four hearts was an excellent contract here, essentially cold unless trumps were 3-0 offside. That happens no more than one time in seven, but today was that day.

Declarer was doubly unlucky that West had a natural spade lead; on any other defense, declarer can arrange to strip off two rounds of spades plus all the minor-suit cards. Then he can endplay East with the master heart to give him a ruff-sluff.

However, when West led the spade jack, declarer won and played the heart king (since he could protect against West having queen-third of hearts). When trumps refused to cooperate, his chances were down to slim and none, and slim appeared to have left the building. But South refused to give up, and found an ingenious way to come home.

He ducked a diamond, won the spade shift and led a club to the ace. When East neglected to unblock an honor, South played a club back to his king and led a third club, discarding dummy’s last diamond. East won the trick, perforce, and exited with a diamond, but that merely postponed the evil hour. South ruffed the diamond in dummy, took the heart ace and exited in trumps to East, who was now well and truly endplayed.

For the record, had declarer held the club 10 instead of West, the defenders would have been helpless here, so maybe East should have worked out what to do. But it is a great deal easier to pass that judgment when one can see all four hands.

The heart intermediates argue for a two-heart rebid here. Although one time in a hundred your partner will have a singleton heart and 3-1-4-5 shape, you are more likely to find that the 5-2 or 5-3 heart fit plays better than no-trump. Terrence Reese argued that a 5-4-2-2 pattern is best played in a suit, and my experience supports this theory.


♠ 7 6 4 3
 A J 9 7 4
 7 2
♣ A 2
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 Pass 1 NT 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 ClimieFebruary 20th, 2018 at 12:20 pm

Hi Bobby,

Did West play the C10 when West led a club to the table? If so, East would know to unblock so it is better if declarer plays a heart to the Ace, then CA first so East hasn’t seen West’s card and then reverts to the column line.

With regard to yesterday’s hugely enjoyable and worthwhile discussions (even more so than usual, and the bar is high on this blog) is anyone able / willing to take Clarksburg’s collection and anything else relevant then publish them somewhere – perhaps as an extra page on bridge blogging? These points just don’t get put across in normal bridge books and lessons, perhaps understandably so. How does one convince some players (including myself in my first bridge playing incarnation) not to resort to the following well-known psychological condition when things go wrong:

Resulting (in)

Just try the initials and I still plead guilty on occasion.



Iain ClimieFebruary 20th, 2018 at 12:24 pm

PS Please strike my play suggestion, it lets East cash the trump Q before exiting. The general principle is sound but not here.

Bruce karlsonFebruary 20th, 2018 at 1:10 pm

BWTA: My reasoning would suggest that NMF is the lesser of available lies. I am only less than a point off the expected HC point count and P’s retreat to 2 NT should be playable but perhaps less so than facing some dbltn H combinations. The chance of finding 3 H would be too alluring. P.S.What are the odds of finding P with 3 of my suit?

Mircea1February 20th, 2018 at 1:34 pm

Hi Iain,

I just posted a reply to Clarksburg in yesterday’s blog and suggested that we could do an e-book. Just wanting to make sure that it gets noticed.

Iain ClimieFebruary 20th, 2018 at 1:49 pm

Hi Mircea,

Great idea, go for it!


bobbywolffFebruary 20th, 2018 at 2:37 pm

Hi Iain (aka Tan Trum),

Suppose you are dealt as South, s. 86, h. AQJxx d. K64, c. A94 and hear your LHO open a natural 1 club, your OX (mostly your affectionate name for partner) passes and East responds 1 spade, You bid 2 hearts, followed by 2 spades from West, 3 only hearts by partner all pass. The opening lead by West is the natural queen of clubs and OXee comes down with. s. A9, h. 98653, d. A72, c. 765 (he has obviously seen your interventions before), you follow and East (playing standard rightside up attitude signals follows with the three.) You win for lack of anything better. At this point what are your options?

Without trying to be too dramatic, I think you have two options, both leading a trump from hand, yes, either the ace or the queen. The ace, if you think that west has a kingleton sing (I admire the poetry of verse), or the queen if you think West instead has a doubleton king.

Everyone should now know, if they haven’t already, figure out why. West is totally marked, on the bidding with the king of hearts, therefore either go for the lesser percentage of a singleton K, instead for the tantalizing ruse of convincing lefty that his partner has the singleton ace.

Of course it is impossible not being there, but as a promising player gains more experience his technical skills indeed slightly improve (keep in mind that he was likely born with numeracy) but his psychological ones, if indeed he will make his mark, magically perform like the best NBA players play basketball, JUMP TO THE SKY!

Obviously any brave soul is permitted to either not agree, or instead, pretend to be impressed, but inwardly think otherwise. My suggestion is to think more about being as tough an opponent as possible, which may enable the ability, when just playing momma, papa, to, every now and then entice even wary opponents to make more mistakes (or just call them misjudgments).

A truism to which I subscribe is that in tournament bridge, especially that bastardized game, matchpoints, that it is impossible to consistently have winning games, without more help than normal from your opponents, and having them comfortable at your table is not the way to do it.

A final thought, do not extend that lack of comfort to include one’s beloved OX, since according to the rules, his actions also count on your score.

bobbywolffFebruary 20th, 2018 at 2:48 pm

Hi Bruce,

Regarding your comment about the BWTA, less chance of 3 of your suit with me since, unless I am any 4-3-3-3 I will generally immediately raise with almost any three (unless partner hates me to).

bobbywolffFebruary 20th, 2018 at 3:51 pm

Hi again Bruce,

Particularly at matchpoints, but still more important than thought at IMPs at least IMO, less so at rubber bridge, is to save declaring at a higher level, if at all possible. That extra trick to be made is crucial and not worth trying to land on the head of a pin in search of perfection.

However NMF or two way checkback Stayman (which I prefer, 2CNGF and 2DGF) might get you to an eight card spade fit, if your partnership sometimes rebids 1NT while holding 4 spades, a possible choice to which I sometimes fall victim.

However, bridge being the ironic game it often is, might have you follow your choice, arrive at 4 spades (with an 8 card fit) down 1 while either your specific opponents or many in the field at matchpoints are in 2 hearts with their 7 card fit making +110.

Iain ClimieFebruary 20th, 2018 at 4:02 pm

Hi Bobby,

I’m placing the spades as 4-5, the clubs as 4-3 (RHO didn’t play the CK) so I think West may be more likely to have 4-2-3-4 than 4-1-4-4 when he might open a diamond or push to 3S. I’ll have to have a think before touching dummy to work that out but, if the reasoning seems sound, I’m going for the smart Alec play of the HQ or J if only to unhinge LHO and dine out on the story. TOCM will give East HK alone and West will have pulled the wrong card from KQJx of clubs of course.

Interesting partner didn’t make the OXessive bid of 4H.


bobbywolffFebruary 20th, 2018 at 4:15 pm

Hi Mircea1, Clarksburg, AVRR and Iain plus everyone else who becomes directly involved,

I thought I had already written this thought, but since I cannot find it, either today or yesterday, I will write it again.

I am not thoroughly modern, Bobby. Quite the contrary, I am close to ignorant on modern technology and what is possible now which wasn’t available yesterday.

Nevertheless I promise to do whatever I can to help whatever project, if any, which is agreed by the group. I certainly am enthusiastic about what has been said up to now. But I just wanted to not hide my shortcomings in keeping up with this very modern world and all of the significant technological advances.

The combination of the composition of our extraordinary cast of superior characters plus, of course, the possibility of discussing better ways to improve the mousetrap which is called bridge, is extremely compelling.

bobbywolffFebruary 20th, 2018 at 5:04 pm

Hi TT,

Pity, that your thoughts have downgraded to mine. However your deception of the possible jack (rather than the somewhat straightforward queen) is sort of a double, double cross, which may even convince a wily defender that (while holding the K10) cannot be missing both the ace and the queen (leaving him with J10xx for his 2 level intervention), yes he is not tempting me to play my king as much, as would just the queen, so what in the world is going on?
“Oh well, perhaps the sky is just falling and, if so, I can handle that by just waking up from this dream”.

However the inclusion of the possibility of leading the Q from KQJ is too much of a coincidence and although certainly possible with a TOCM predator as an opponent, since TT isn’t so infected (yet), I, before his TT goes into action will just duck and let my partner win his ace. Tune into tomorrow for the answer when again you can listen to the commercials for my wonderful product, whatever it happens to be,

Besides there are no such things as bridge coincidences as bridge cheats will learn, when and if, they ever get their totally deserved, just punishments-lifetime bans.

Just another day at the table,

Your favorite OX as in oxident

Mircea1February 20th, 2018 at 6:37 pm

Hi Bobby, Clarksburg, Iain, AVRR and anyone else interested

I think the first order of business would be open up a direct channel of communication between us. My e-mail address is: mg kwcomputerconcepts com

At the minimum, I would need to hear from Craksburg and Bobby (unless I’m not to be included in this project)

bobbywolffFebruary 20th, 2018 at 7:39 pm

Hi Mircea1,

Why wouldn’t you be included in this project since you are the one who suggested it, and, no doubt, would be integral to its success?

My guess, in order to get it started, you should be the one to organize the process and, at the very least, call the immediate shots. In any event, no hurry, take your time, and, together with whom you suggest and in what capacity, then start a dialogue with the first responders.

Also, I only intend to just do my share and let who you want (after discussing with them) get the job done, or at least, pointed in the right direction.

What say you? and before you answer, again no hurry, think it out and let it develop.

Mircea1February 20th, 2018 at 8:39 pm

Hi Bobby,

I’m glad to see that this is raising some interest.

Here is a very rough plan on how I think we can approach this:

1. Assemble a team of people willing to participate in this project
2. Decide on the objectives: what do we really want to accomplish
3. Assign roles and responsibilities: more or less who does what
4. Try to come up with a timeframe for when we can expect to move to the next stage

I expect that this will take some time, but that depends exclusively on the participants. Nevertheless, I’m sure it will be worth it.

As I said, to get the ball rolling we should communicate directly. At this point, e-mail should be OK. If things progress well, it may become more efficient to periodically conference call, for instance when having to make important decisions requiring extensive discussions

é rabi em pulos, proponho que, para festejar nosso
conciliação de amizade, En todo hora se pondrá F, Coma R.
Poner los datos por orden horario, en 1 para la
primera hora del día, en 2 para la segunda, etc. me dê um curso
de pulos, para eu permanecer tão puladora como