Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information.

Oscar Wilde

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

*Minors, 8-12 HCP



Weak two-suited opening bids can mess up the opponents, but they can also backfire horribly. Witness today’s deal from the Yeh Bros Cup.

Four hearts is impossible for North-South to make here, but it would have been easy to get rich by defending three diamonds doubled. However, against Liu Jun’s three-no-trump contract, Ian Robinson led the diamond seven to Arjun Delivera’s nine. Jun won and played on clubs. East ducked the first club, then won the next.

Back came a low diamond rather than the jack; declarer made a good guess and won in hand, cashed his spade and heart winners, and presented East with a diamond. Delivera could cash three diamonds, but then had to concede the last three clubs to dummy.

East should have unblocked both the diamond nine and jack early, in which case West would have had the option to win the third round of diamonds with the six.

Now declarer is threatened with five top losers if he surrenders a heart while the defenders still have communications in diamonds. But he should be able to spot the play of advancing the heart queen, hoping for a bare jack or nine with East. When he gets lucky, he can cash one club if he wants, pitching a heart, on which West can discard either a heart or a spade.

However, now declarer comes to hand with the second spade and exits with a diamond. If East wins, he must surrender the game-going tricks in clubs. If West wins, he has a spade to cash, but he can’t take more than one heart trick.

Partner has bid out his shape, suggesting short hearts. Rather than bid three no-trump, it feels logical to me to temporize with three hearts now. I would raise a call of three spades or four clubs to game and pass a three no-trump bid. If partner jumps to five clubs, I will surely bid slam.


♠ 8 2
 A 8 6 4
 8 4
♣ A Q 10 8 2
South West North East
    1 ♠ Pass
1 NT Pass 2 ♣ Pass
3 ♣ Pass 3 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


David WarheitMarch 17th, 2018 at 11:53 am

I assume you meant to say N dealer and EW vulnerable.

A.V.Ramana RaoMarch 17th, 2018 at 2:47 pm

Hi Dear Mr.Wolff
Perhaps it is difficult , but had south passed north’s double of three diamonds , NS would have got more points than their non vulnerable game score. But again, it is a matter of judgment.

A.V.Ramana RaoMarch 17th, 2018 at 2:50 pm

& Perhaps, east should not have opened as you mentioned in which case NS would have identified the heart fit and reached game there which unfortunately does not make. Sometimes, Bridge could be unfair

bobbywolffMarch 17th, 2018 at 3:39 pm

Hi David,

Yes, but, of course, we set that up just to see how many of our posters would notice that gaffe.

And, if you believe that, there is a beautiful bridge (the structure not the game), which I can sell you at a special price.

Sorry, but since North could have opened the bidding (I would have), it sometimes wards off the NV opponents (such as East) from preempting us) although this time likely contributed mightily to the make.

Is there any way we can slip our untruths past your eagle eye? Besides, of course, of not committing them.

bobbywolffMarch 17th, 2018 at 3:58 pm


Actually NS only were vulnerable, although as David pointed out it is certainly not clear, only having a “N” (meaning North not no), but upon best defense EW figures to take either 5 or 6 tricks in diamonds against a decent defense, making it a virtual tossup between minus 500 or 800.

Also, as you (and the column) mentioned, if left to their own devices, NS might have reached their 4-4 major suit fit, likely down, which on the surface figures to be bad luck, but on the actual bidding (giving away the actual bad splits) West may lead a club and with the many varieties of play and defense will, at least IMO, normally not make.

Yes, our game appears to have a strong luck element, but like many other competitions, long range winners and against good competition will overcome the bad luck more often than others, which almost always goes back and forth, equally blessing and condemning all partnerships (Jim2, because of his TOCM TM being the exception).

jim2March 17th, 2018 at 4:04 pm

Proving again that it is not always a good thing to be exceptional …

bobbywolffMarch 17th, 2018 at 4:25 pm

Hi Jim2,

Quit having fun with the English language.

You, alone, have been granted an otherwise tacit immunity from bad results, so count your blessings instead of either sheep, sleep, or any and everything, indiscreet.

Iain ClimieMarch 17th, 2018 at 9:10 pm

Hi Jim2, folks,

You may find some consolation as TOCM bites yet again. It is fill of demotivational advice with Teamwork and Consistency two of my favorites. Enjoy!



bobbywolffMarch 18th, 2018 at 7:51 am

Hi Iain, Jim2 and all others,

Can anyone argue that there is something wonderful in knowing beforehand, instead of at the death, the 95% slam you have just bid will not make. Hopes not dashed since none were ever expected. No bad moods, no undue ugly words to others and fewer dentist appointments since teeth will never be gnashed (love being able to use that word).

Does anyone know if Dame Fortune allows TOCM to infect matchpoints or does it only prey on rubber bridge? If yes is the answer, would Jim2 be unethical to only bid poor percentage games and slams and stay out of the good ones?

In any event Jim2 is undoubtedly the greatest bridge wizard ever to have never been able to make a good contract. Perhaps the above will be baum for his wounds, with his destiny, like happy little bluebirds, winding up, over the rainbow.

jim2March 18th, 2018 at 2:33 pm

Dear Host, unless that was a typo, you just made a magnelephant pun accurately describing how my bridge contracts end up in Oz-like fantasies of bad luck, such that I must needs play like a Wizard to make them.

Sadly, I usually need a brain-transplant, as my head (too) oft feels full of straw.

bobbywolffMarch 18th, 2018 at 3:45 pm

Dear Jim2,

If I only had a heart and a lion’s like courage to say so, I would at least, scare up a journey, with my new found friends on the Yellow Brick Road a trip to the Emerald city, with hopes of not “feeling” and having to listen to Frank Morgan behind drapes.

And finally I can say with conviction that when I wake up, I will be, at last, back in Kansas.

And, yes indeed, you are a real WIZARD, at least to me and because of you (and others), this very fortunate (opposite of TOCM TM) site.

3191March 22nd, 2018 at 12:04 am

Amazing issues here. I am very happy to see your article.
Thanks so much and I’m taking a look ahead to touch you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?3191