Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. … Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.

Mark Twain

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

*Weak, both majors


Today’s deal comes from last July’s consolation teams event at the Yeh Bros tournament in Tokyo. Chen Yeh sponsors the tournament, and it is great news for bridge that this is back to being an annual event, so that spectators can watch the world’s best bridge players competing for the largest cash prizes in the game, both online and in person.

As the daily bulletin sardonically remarked, it can be hard to console a team that is playing the secondary Swiss with a metaphorical big fat ‘L’ branded on its forehead. But David Beauchamp of Australia cheered his team up when he found a successful way home when playing game in one of the opponents’ suits.

The defense against four hearts doubled would have generated only 300, so it was right for him to bid on; but to what contract? Note that while four no-trump can be made, five clubs might be set on the spade ruff.

Fu Zhong, as West, led a heart against four spades, ducked the first trump and won the next to return a heart. Beauchamp now knew not to lead a trump again, since the suit was marked as 4-2. He discarded a club on the heart ace, won the diamond king and led a club to the ace, a diamond to the queen and a diamond toward dummy. When East discarded, West was marked with a 4-4-4-1 shape, so declarer could confidently run the club jack, losing just three trump tricks in all. Had both defenders followed to the third diamond, declarer would probably have played West to hold a 4-4-3-2 shape.

You have enough to issue a game invitation, and a simple raise of diamonds ignores other possible strains. (The hand could play better in spades, clubs or no-trump.) Cue-bid two hearts to show a good hand and await partner’s rebid to help you decide whether to whether to play game or partscore.


♠ 10 9 6 3
 K Q 7
♣ K 8 7 5 4
South West North East
  1 2 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 25th, 2018 at 1:40 pm

At last year’s Lower Slobbovia Mud Cup, most declarers feared West might have five spades, and so ventured 4N.

A small heart was always led, and the declarers cashed the AC, then finessed, generally making 10 tricks. In one case, IIRC, West’s four discards included a diamond, leading to 11 tricks.

Bobby WolffSeptember 25th, 2018 at 3:16 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, since EW were playing unusual conventions, and thus were enabled to open the NV West hand with 2 diamonds, a major suit takeout, poor NS had to just grope in order to keep up.

Daringly bid and especially well played, while most only cake-walked to a NT game leaving a few who went down 300 while declaring 4 hearts EW down 2 doubled.

Such is the luck in what could be considered high-level bridge, having to (as Mark Twain suggested) work hard, while others merely played.

And wherever for innovators than to sling mud at the Lower Slobbovia Mud Cup tends to prove the bridge gods are in their heaven, all is right in their world.

Finally, if playing matchpoints +630 is good enough, probably well over average, but, of course, +660 should be a top, leaving the magnificent +620 likely no better than average, but in compensation, swollen pride, for a well played hand.

jim2September 25th, 2018 at 4:30 pm

+630 was average — tough game, that Mud Cup.

Only the Slush Cup is tougher.

Iain ClimieSeptember 25th, 2018 at 4:38 pm

HI Bobby,

East didn’t fancy the “cheap” save in 5H then? I’ve got to say that if I was in punt mode (as yesterday) I might have ventured 3N with the North hand on the first round. It works today, but probably deserves to find East with most of South’s high cards. West’s bid did (again) help South in the play, though without it NS have an easy ride to 3N.

On the bulletin’s comment (which I hope the players didn’t see, or maybe it provoked them into playing better), if the author was so smart, how come he / she was writing the bulletin instead of playing? We can all shine from the sidelines!



Bobby WolffSeptember 25th, 2018 at 4:58 pm

Hi Jim2,

Most all of us prefer “slush” to “mud”. Colder but cleaner.

I thus suppose +630 would be below average at slush.

Bobby WolffSeptember 25th, 2018 at 5:02 pm

Hi Iain,

No doubt, an immediate 3NT by North over the major suit freak on my right. No cowardly actions allowed since RHO has forced and thus raised the gauntlet.

Freak means the hand not the player.

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