Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Twixt the optimist and pessimist
The difference is droll:
The optimist sees the doughnut,
The pessimist the hole.

McLandburgh Wilson

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

*Unbalanced invitation with


Today’s deal cropped up in a team game, where one declarer came back in triumph with what he was sure was a good result and was somewhat deflated at the comparison of scores.

Our first declarer had played four hearts on the lead of the diamond nine. He took East’s jack in his hand and led a heart to the jack and ace. East could have defeated the game by returning a diamond, but instead he exited passively with a spade. Declarer could regain the lead to draw trumps, eventually losing one trick in spades and diamonds, to come back with 10 tricks.

When it came to the score comparison, his teammates read out minus 420. Our hero was somewhat crestfallen and made his next mistake when he asked his teammates what had gone wrong.

“What do you mean?” came the answer in a surprised tone of voice. “I also led the diamond nine, which went to the jack and ace. Our declarer suspected the lead to be a singleton, so he made the essential play of eliminating clubs before touching trumps.

“Then declarer played on hearts, and my partner won and accurately gave me a ruff. But what could I do now? I was out of red cards, so I had to lead the spade ace and another spade. Declarer could now discard dummy’s losing diamond on the spade king. If I had played a club, giving a ruff-and-discard, the losing diamond would again have disappeared. I assume you played it the same way?”

“Almost exactly,” came the response.

Your partner has shown game-forcing values with a singleton club. Your hand could hardly fit better, despite having only 8 HCP. Use Blackwood, and be prepared to consider a grand slam if your partner comes through with the appropriate number of keycards. After all partner must have at least two keycards, surely, so where are your losers?


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

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Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieMarch 6th, 2018 at 12:26 pm

Hi Bobby,

IN a way this hand shows a couple of advantages of pairs over IMPs, even though the latter is “proper bridge”. Firstly, the wide range of scores (and potential random results or fixes) can cover up one’s sins more effectively. Secondly you’ve got three people looking at what you’ve messed up instead of just one and hiding is much, much harder. It all sorts the men (and women) out from the small, furry cheese eating rodents.

regards (and possibly squeaks),


A V Ramana RaoMarch 6th, 2018 at 4:13 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
In a lighter vein
East after winning trump A leads ten of spade. South now convinced that the diamond lead is from doubleton ( otherwise why east leads a spade instead of diamond) relaxes and plays low. So ten of spades holds and east regains sanity and leads diamond for west to ruff . ( east did not have reason not lead a diamond and south does not have a reason not to play K when east leads spade instead of diamod but to make it a comedy of errors)

A V Ramana RaoMarch 6th, 2018 at 4:17 pm

And I liked ” Almost exactly” response.

Bobby WolffMarch 6th, 2018 at 5:23 pm

Hi Iain,

Well described and for almost all the necessary reasons. Reminds me of a long ago “tough guy, gangster type actor”, an American named Jimmy Cagney, who often, even though slight of build and only about 5’2, called his dangerous adversaries and to their faces, “you rat”.

Of great surprise and very recently on the internet there appeared an incredible video of both Cagney and Bob Hope doing a synchronized dance routine together, which almost knocked my eyes out with their talent.
although history tells us Bob Hope started out as a prizefighter.

“Of Mice and Men” questioned Lenny!

Bobby WolffMarch 6th, 2018 at 5:41 pm


Now you are getting to what a late and great American newscaster and sometime philosopher named Paul Harvey used to relate in his patented series, “The Rest of the Story”.

Sometimes we receive interesting bridge hands, which we wind up usually editing and then, if topical and on point, passing them on to our readers which always seem to emphasize some sort of realistic clever play by either the declarer or the defense.

I have often wondered what really happened and whether it is a fantasy as to what was said to happen, but only just what could have occurred, but alas, just the best laid plans of “Mice and Men”.

Similar to “Almost exactly”.

BobliptonMarch 6th, 2018 at 8:16 pm

Alas, I was playing at the same He won the opening lead and then, instead of clearing the clubs, started to draw trumps. Righty rose with Ace, gave his partner a ruff, whereupon the SA was cashed for down 1. I didn’t think it would be worthwhile to complain, since our team mates were over bidders and any discussion would be best reserved for later.

It turned out that our West had overcalled 1NT with 2Spades, showing Spades and a minor, resulting in their playing 4 Spades (undoubted) down 1. They were were disappointed we had apparently taken the phantom sacrifice.


jim2March 6th, 2018 at 10:57 pm


If Lefty cashes the AS upon getting a D ruff, I believe declarer makes it.

Bobby WolffMarch 7th, 2018 at 1:59 am

Hi Bob & Jim2,

Yes, that premature ace of spades cash, allowed declarer to throw a diamond away from dummy and score up the game after all, but since something else may have happened including an incorrect score reported, we need to let either sleeping dogs lie, acknowledge agreed scores to stand, or whatever else is necessary to secure a final score.

How about a trip to the bar?