Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 6th, 2018

If Little Timmy had just had more meatloaf, he might not have grown up to fill chest freezers with Cub Scout parts.

Anthony Bourdain

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



The best conventions are those that come up relatively frequently, are easy to remember and don’t require you to sacrifice a useful natural call to implement. Well, as Meat Loaf said in discussing Lebensohl, “Two out of three ain’t bad.” Lebensohl is an eminently forgettable concept, but once you have it in place after intervention to one no-trump, you can also use it in other relatively common sequences. Today’s auction is a case in point: South would have bid two no-trump, a puppet to three clubs, to show a weak hand with his own suit. His direct three hearts is encouraging, but not forcing (7-10 high-card points with either four or five hearts), and North has an easy raise to game.

The defenders cash two top spades, then shift to the club two. While this could be a singleton, East’s initial pass makes this somewhat unlikely. You win with the ace, ruff a spade in hand and lead a club to the king. When West follows up the line, you ruff dummy’s last club with the heart 10.

Having found West with six spades and three or more clubs, you cash the diamond king and lead a diamond toward the ace. You know that if West were to trump in, he would be ruffing a loser, and you would have the rest. When West follows twice, you know 11 of his cards. So, next play the heart ace and lead a heart to your nine. If it loses, West must give you a ruff-sluff; if it wins, draw the last trump and concede a diamond trick.

At matchpoints, you might consider playing hearts rather than diamonds. But at IMPs, you simply want to go plus by making your natural call: raise diamonds. If the opponents compete in a black suit, you can bid on to three diamonds, which will most likely end the auction.


♠ Q 4
 K J 10 3 2
 K J 6 5
♣ 8 6
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


jim2September 20th, 2018 at 12:24 pm

I confess that I do not see the column line as optimal, but it may be that I do not understand some nuance.

Stripping the black suits is fine but, once that is done, why play diamonds at all? Why not lead a heart to the KH and a heart back to hand? If East follows, a finesse either wins or endplays West. If East shows out, win AH and exit with a heart, again endplaying West.

Another maybe better line would be to try to reduce the risk of a club over-ruff and safe exit (instead of relying on West’s fidelity of carding). For example, win the club return and ruff the third spade, but then cash one high heart before ruffing the third club. That line would deprive West of a safe exit upon over-ruff if that defender had started with:


If West held the column hand or otherwise followed suit as declarer ruffed the third club, then the AD is the entry to lead the second round of hearts from the Board. Again, declarer would either finesse if East follows or rise with AH and exit and endplay West.

Iain ClimieSeptember 20th, 2018 at 1:08 pm

Hi Jim2,

I’ve got to say that TOCM does miracles for your attention to detail! On the second line, though, what if West didn’t over-ruff either as he has the holding you suggest or as East had 3 hearts. Presumably, a diamond to table now and a heart finesse now does the trick either way.



jim2September 20th, 2018 at 2:05 pm

Iain Climie –

Yes, if West has followed to the AH and then discards on the third club, the diamond to the board and second heart plays the same.

jim2September 20th, 2018 at 2:45 pm

BTW, in that first post, I meant a heart to the Board’s top trump, which is the AH this time, as I led the second heart from Board towards the closed hand for a finesse.

Bobby WolffSeptember 20th, 2018 at 3:32 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes and no doubt, the column line is similar to scratching your left ear with your right hand or for that matter scratching your right ear with your left hand, but exotic is, at the least, worth bragging rights in the postmortem. Especially so when the declarer can prove to his partner that he has learned “counting the defensive hands” in a more roundabout manner.

Not to mention the overtrick scored when West turns up with two doubleton red queens. Yes, I know, only when West didn’t start with four clubs.

But to now listen to your earned valid rebuttal, will naturally be much more pleasant to one of us, not named me.

Bobby WolffSeptember 20th, 2018 at 3:53 pm

Hi Iain,

What are you and I gonna do with Jim2? He plays our game so well, likely better than anyone, but then being dealt that TOCM TM? He’s like a scarecrow with a brain, a tin woodsman with a heart, a lion who is also brave or a real wizard instead of a phony one. All good, but left, over the rainbow, with no story. Oh well, Just to be Frank, I’ll have to find some Baum for my distress.

jim2September 20th, 2018 at 4:35 pm

Nah, I’m just the third winged simian from the right.

Bobby WolffSeptember 20th, 2018 at 5:06 pm

Hi Jim2,

Quit hiding, worse, monkeying around, or I’ll sic Toto on you. In case he didn’t know it, I told him that this isn’t Kansas any more.

Ten on your left, huh, but how many wicked witches to trump? And according to Dr. OZ, one beak is better than 2 finesses.

jim2September 20th, 2018 at 5:40 pm

Depends if the finesse is of a different color.

Bobby WolffSeptember 20th, 2018 at 6:10 pm

Hi Jim2,

Black is black and red is red, and never the twain should meet. However hearts are for lovers and should fall as equal, but diamonds usually mainly for female insurance, are more likely to be fickle.

Ken MooreSeptember 21st, 2018 at 12:31 am

I’m new here.


BTW, any others that I need to know?

jim2September 21st, 2018 at 1:05 am

Theory of Card Migration ™

One of the first mentions is the first question in the Comment posts here:

Check the third post which was my answer. 21st, 2018 at 6:37 am

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