Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

Who knows when some slight shock, disturbing the delicate balance between social order and thirsty aspiration, shall send the skyscrapers in our cities toppling?

Richard Wright

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


Have you ever experienced a sinking feeling when an opponent who is not generally ranked in the top echelon of players suddenly produces a devastating defense against you?

Recently, a fellow writer, Maureen Hiron, remarked that she encountered just such an incident. She had opened a strong no-trump and, after a Stayman inquiry, showed her hearts, but North’s three no-trump ended the auction. West led the diamond four; you might find it interesting to see if you can duplicate East’s defense.

Without apparent thought, East took his ace and switched to a low spade. Hiron played low, West won with his king and returned the spade eight. South tried the nine from dummy, tempting a cover, but East played low and Hiron was forced to overtake with her ace.

Next she tried a cunning heart jack, but West hopped up with his ace and concluded the deadly defense when he led back another spade for East to take his spade winners and defeat the contract.

Later, East explained the logic of his play, saying that since the diamond four had been led and he could see the three and the two, declarer must hold four cards in the suit as well as four hearts.

South was also marked with three clubs (or else West would have attacked from a five-card suit at trick one), and therefore just two spades. However, what made the hand really easy was that he had played this hand the day before in a practice class, and it had not been redealt…

Your partner’s jump in the opponents’ suit suggests game-forcing values with short spades and probably a one-suited hand. (He might have begun with a cue-bid if he were interested in playing in clubs or hearts.) You can see three no-trump might be in danger, but slam in diamonds is a real possibility. Cue-bid four clubs and be prepared to cooperate again if partner cuebids four hearts.


♠ J 9 7 3
 7 2
 Q 9 2
♣ A K 5 4
South West North East
  Pass 1 1 ♠
1 NT 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


Iain ClimieSeptember 4th, 2018 at 4:04 pm

Hi Bobby,

A tongue in cheek idea for next week’s lesson: Unauthorised Information and why you shouldn’t use it.

Less flippantly though, as the player was clearly only moderate, what should you do if you hear something like “That hand was such a fluke, both sides can just keep bidding” stage whispered nearby apart from trying the info if an obvious freak hand appears? Is it worth talking to the TD? From a personal point of view, keeping the noise down and minimising post mortems seem essential.



bobbywolffSeptember 4th, 2018 at 5:33 pm

Hi Iain,

While your question is quite unusual, it is definitely worth answering, and, in addition, worth researching, pondering, and then risking a response.

Perhaps the original complications, innate to our game, require special handling, resulting in a magnification and thus overuse of the word, subjectivity.

Obviously (and the easy part) all players need to be aware (during tournament play) of their responsibility to not let “loose lips (or actions) sink ships. Perhaps any found to be “loose but in the wrong hands unauthorized information (UI)” traced back to carelessness needs to result in punitive penalties to those culprits.

Then, and, of course, on some kind of graduated scale those penalties increased to players who tend to be repeat offenders, or God Forgive have any form of intentional use to describe their actions to which major suspensions then become the order of the day, with IMO no penalty being severe enough to be thought off limits.

However and now to the subjective part:

1. Any kind of lingering post mortems strictly forbidden
2. Broad use of describing loose talk pertaining to any feature of private talk concerning results, location of cards, results, general behavior whether pertinent or not, but what could be determined as only possible advantageous to another who has yet to play that hand or even ones who have played it, but just lucky to the culprit who may think he has already played it, but unlikely to know that as 100% true (IOWs just possible hearsay). This, of course, should always, be any doubt to be to the detriment of what could be called the “Typhoid Mary syndrome” as against anyone who even might be guilty, although not be harmful on any one occasion.

IOWs a giant bias against any untoward behavior which could eventually lead to a bone chilling leak on another time under different circumstances.

With the above as a preamble to do the most which can be done, it would not be difficult for anyone with close to an average IQ to determine how harmful UI can be to fair results and thus necessary to have draconian laws to prevent its spread.

Yes, any talk heard should immediately be reported to the closest TD with all happenings such as named culprits or situations disclosed with the always intention of stopping such activities at its source. The authorities then should develop precedent in the overall handing of such dangers to our game with penalties to be included which, if anything are designed to keep it from ever happening again, with scapegoats not given any leeway.

Strong handling to follow!

Overall, yes a player who gains privy to a dangerous situations (although here the subjectivity should suggest if only a kibitzer who doesn’t play bridge should be an exception to punishment) but even that needs to be investigated as at least some possible connection to a valid other dangerous party.

The above is only the beginning of what should be a carefully thought out legal and consistent method to retain an honest status quo which will stand up to severe scrutiny.

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