Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

The history of human thought recalls the swinging of a pendulum that takes centuries to swing.

Peter Kropotkin

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

*Gambling: solid minor suit


In this deal from the quarterfinal match between Bulgaria and USA1 in the Bermuda Bowl last summer, the U.S. team played game at both tables.

In the other room, against three no-trump by East, the opening lead was a low club. North won the ace and continued with the queen. East misjudged by overtaking with the king, which set up declarer’s nine for his ninth trick.

In the room shown here, East bailed out after a gambling three no-trump opener, over which Jeff Meckstroth as South found a courageous balance of four hearts, doubled by East.

On a diamond lead and a spade shift at trick two, this would have been at least one down. But when West continued with a top diamond, declarer stood a chance, even more so when East discarded a club on the diamond king.

Meckstroth ruffed, crossed to dummy’s club queen, led a heart to his jack, crossed to the club jack and led another heart. East went in with the ace this time and returned his last club, but Meckstroth could overtake his king with dummy’s ace, cash the club eight for a spade discard (ruffing it would not have helped the defense), ruff a diamond to reduce his trump length, and play ace and another spade. His king and 10 of hearts were now sure to score the last two tricks.

So USA1 collected game in both rooms for a 14-IMP swing — which somehow seems rather low when you consider that a normal game swing is worth at least 10 IMPs.

This is an awkward hand: Facing short spades, you might easily make game in a minor but not three no-trump. However, if you jump in one minor, you lose the other; and if you cue-bid, partner will expect you to have hearts. So maybe your best call is to bid two no-trump and hope partner will make a descriptive call with extras, not woodenly raise to three no-trump.


♠ A 4 3
 7 3
 8 6 4 3
♣ A Q J 8
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ Dbl. 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


Pete SagerSeptember 11th, 2018 at 3:19 pm

Hi Bobby,
Am I missing something here? It seems to me that ruffing the club eight would defeat the contract. Declarer would be limited to five hearts, three clubs, and the ace of spades.

bobbywolffSeptember 11th, 2018 at 6:19 pm

Hi Pete,

You are not missing something here, but we are.

Evidently East did not discard a club at any point, allowing North to cash four club tricks, discarding a losing spade and then set the tone for the end play by at the end leading his losing spade to the opponents who then had to concede both hearts to Meckstroth at the death.

Wrong reporting at the time, followed up by careless indifference by us, to, at the very least, pointing out the defensive error made by East in not discarding his losing club earlier.

Thanks for setting the record straight about declarer taking advantage of a careless discard on the second high diamond by partner. not throwing away a club, but actually a spade instead. However, perhaps it is not so easy to do at the time, nevertheless it cost EW dearly by not doing so.

Sorry for our gaffe, and thanks for your eagle eye.

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