Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 21st, 2019

Fraud includes the pretense of knowledge when knowledge there is none.

Benjamin Cardozo

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

*Smolen: five hearts and four


In today’s deal from the Yeh Bros. tournament last July, one South opened and rebid clubs, and played in two clubs. The other followed the sequence shown; readers can decide whose method of handling the South cards they prefer. But certainly, reaching four hearts while concealing the major elements of the strong hand has something to recommend it.

For Chinese Taipei, Sidney Yang led a top club, and David Yang (East) won the first heart to play back a club. Declarer Keyzad Anklesaria put in the 10, forcing the jack, and ruffed in dummy, then led a spade to the king and ace, and ruffed the next spade high. Now he lead a heart to the nine and got the good and bad news.

Next he played a low diamond from dummy; had East ducked, declarer would have put in the jack and led clubs to neutralize West’s trump holding, with a diamond re-entry to hand if West ruffed the first club. East actually took his diamond ace and played back a second diamond, but declarer could simply win in hand and run clubs through West for the trump coup.

Nicely played by declarer, but where the New Zealand team was defending four hearts on a similar auction, also on a top club lead, Matthew Brown as East won the heart king at trick two and shifted to a low diamond. To make four hearts now, declarer would have had to put in the jack — a tough but not impossible play. When he played low, he found himself stuck in dummy and could do nothing but led a spade to West’s ace, after which a diamond return for the ruff settled declarer’s hash.

Even if your partner has three hearts, you seem to have no entry to your suit. Therefore, I would try to find partner’s long suit, which is surely clubs, not spades. If he had a five-card suit and values, he might have overcalled in spades, but may not have had enough to bid at the two-level.


♠ 9 8 5
 Q J 9 4 2
 Q 4
♣ 5 3 2
South West North East
  1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 3 NT
All 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieFebruary 4th, 2019 at 2:19 pm

Hi Bobby,

1C 1H 2H seems an alternative start to the auction. North may pass, based on the club misfit, but if he tries 2S especially at teams, South will be bidding 4H. Was the scoring IMPs, by the way? I seem to recall that the Yeh cup is pairs but with IMP (Butler) scoring.



A V Ramana RaoFebruary 4th, 2019 at 3:33 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
At the first table , declarer need not have to ruff the spade return from west ( after winning spade A) had he inserted ten from dummy.- which wins and now he can lead diamond from dummy forcing entry to hand, for trump finesse ( not that it matters as south made the contract) Neverthless.

Bobby WolffFebruary 4th, 2019 at 3:52 pm

Hi Iain,

If South, with today’s column, begins with a normal 1 club and West being vulnerable, passes, then North should, of course bid one heart and I totally agree with you in raising to 2 hearts, instead of a mundane 2 clubs (which implies a misfit). Sure 2 clubs could be a better part score than would be 2 hearts, but why keep support a secret.

Today’s trend, at least among its experienced tournament players, is to try alternate openings such as an unconventional 1NT while holding a singleton. Sure, the playing values are there, but while that feature is accurate, the final contract may lead to a minor disaster because of the singleton King of spades.

However, those adventures seem to be the way that modern bridge is now directed.

At least to me, once I respond the normal 1 heart with North, I would definitely pass partner’s simple raise to 2 hearts. However, if so, my result would then never be featured in anyone’s bridge column.

And so it goes with our always exciting game.

Yes, the very popular Yeh annual tournament features IMP scoring and draws the finest players (forming teams-of-four) from around the world.

Bobby WolffFebruary 4th, 2019 at 4:07 pm


Perhaps South was hoping that East had the jack of spades without the nine tempting him to play the jack. Remember both East and West expected the 1NT opener to have at least a 2nd spade, which is one reason players open 1NT with a singleton, in order to confuse the defense to the declarer’s advantage.

It, of course, happens both ways as far as playing luck is concerned, once a player attempts to weave a tangled web.

Just a word to the newer players to our game, confirming that deception, both in the bidding and play, is totally allowed when that partnership was not any more aware of its possibility than were the opponents.

Thanks for your usual and insightful comments which are always appreciated.

jim2February 4th, 2019 at 4:16 pm

I must say my opponents were not amused when at the Slush Cup my partner (South) — avowing afterwards that he “had to protect his diamond holding” — bid 3N.

Bobby WolffFebruary 4th, 2019 at 5:42 pm

Hi Jim2,

Your partner showed excellent judgment, except West led a low spade while holding: s. 5xxx, h. KQ, d. Axxx, c. Qxx while defending 3NT, instead of the West from above.

However, the medical profession, as well as human kind, greatly benefited from this otherwise insignificant bridge hand for them to first realize that TOCM TM is indeed contagious and have since, developed a working vaccine.

A final thought pertaining to this important medical discovery is to understand that vaccine demanded, in order to be effective, a permanent exclusion from playing bridge.

However, the good news learned is that all those TOCM victims previously infected are still allowed to play, although, in truth, very few, perhaps I heard only one, still are.

jim2February 4th, 2019 at 6:14 pm

And, indeed, if I had been declarer I doubt not that the cards would have migrated that way, They did not, however, showing again that bridge is a partnership game and that it is sometimes better to let that partner declare!

Bobby WolffFebruary 4th, 2019 at 8:39 pm

Hi again Jim2,

Hooray for finding a significant weakness in the disease strain of TOCM TM.

Unless it is a mutation of a more intelligent enemy, if you merely change your last name to Partner your suits may start breaking normally, your opponents will stop playing double dummy, and more than 50% of your finesses will work, directly leading to your bridge championships to be endless.

May I be your first agent? With your proven talent, your personal stock will be climbing through the roof.

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