Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

His honor rooted in dishonor stood,
And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

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


Today’s deal came up in a teams game, where both tables reached the perfectly reasonable spot of six no-trump. In the first room, when the player sitting East saw his partner lead the spade nine, he won his ace and shifted to a club in an attempt to break up any pressure on his partner. A nice try — but not good enough; South won the ace, cashed the ace and king of diamonds, then ran all his major-suit winners ending in dummy. The three-card ending saw dummy with the diamond jack and two clubs, while South had the K-Q-8 of clubs in hand. West had to abandon control of clubs, and the club eight took trick 13.

When the teams scored up, South from the other room proudly announced plus 1440 as if expecting a swing in. When asked why, South explained how the defense had gone at his table, on the same lead. East had ducked both the first and second spade, so now South ran four rounds of hearts, pitching a diamond from hand, and forcing West to consider his last seven cards. He had to keep three diamonds and four clubs, so he let go of his remaining spade. Declarer cashed his clubs and threw West in with the fourth club, discarding a spade from the board, to force a diamond lead away from the queen for the 12th trick.

“Was that how the play went in your room?’ asked South. “For all intents and purposes,” responded his teammate, demonstrating once again that truth is very much in the eye of the beholder.

I’d normally compete to two spades, with the fifth trump telling me that our side has at least eight trumps between us. Against that approach are the three small hearts and the fact that my partner would always bid two spades with four trumps unless his hand were extraordinarily unsuitable for that call. He would double two diamonds with extras and three trumps. Still, I’d bid and let my opponents make the last mistake.


♠ A 6 5 4 2
 9 4 3
 9 8 5
♣ 9 2
South West North East
  1 Dbl. 1
1 ♠ 2 Pass 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


Bill CubleyFebruary 26th, 2019 at 4:01 pm


In BWTA you bid and let your opponents make the last mistake. Alas, this works so very well for my opponents. 😉

Mircea1February 26th, 2019 at 4:06 pm

I wonder how long it took North to leap to 6NT. I was thought that with no 5-card suit, the chances of taking 12 tricks at no-trump on 33hcp (which is the minimum combined here) are pretty small. Is this just theory?

bobbywolffFebruary 26th, 2019 at 4:20 pm

Hi Bill,

With 5 cards in a major suit plus, of course, a never overrated ace, never allow the opponents to play at less than the three level in either IMPs, rubber bridge or matchpoints when partner has doubled for TO promising at least 3 card support in that major.

Never be that easy an opponent, but if somehow it doesn’t work, please do not divulge where you received such dribble.

Seriously I believe the above true, in spite of an exception every blue moon.

bobbywolffFebruary 26th, 2019 at 4:28 pm

Hi Mircea1,

Even though neither partner had a 5 card suit and partner did have a complete minimum, but with competent play it would produce, even though East would be right to duck the spade twice and for the right reason of not letting declarer “rectify the count”.

However the location of the bad club break plus holding the diamond queen made up for it.

Always remember the old and wise saying:
“When there is a will, there will always be, not necessarily a way, but, of course, relatives”. Only kidding, because this time, in spite of those two shortcomings, a slam can be bid and most importantly, scored up!

Iain ClimieFebruary 26th, 2019 at 4:56 pm

Hi Bobby, Mircea,

Maybe the theory behind 33 pts for 6NT with no long suits is that you’re off an Ace and a King so basically have a 50-50 chance of making it, which is OK (ish) odds for bidding a slam at IMPs. Add in long suits, trumps and/or being off scattered Jacks instead of a King, and matters naturally improve. I reckon that far more tight slams are bid in trump suits, nowadays, though – splinters are often credited as they highlight really good fits and/or wasted values quickly.



bobbywolffFebruary 26th, 2019 at 5:37 pm

Hi Iain,

You just gave a sophisticated explanation on why 33 points (of course some of those being distributional when a suit slam is involved, but basically in NT only hcps and, of course, long suit tricks (to which six card holdings being divided 3-3) eg being called “mirror holdings”, the least effective.

Compare AKxx opposite QJ doubleton with AKx opposite QJx (or any 3-3) and one does not need to be a numerate genius to understand both the upside and downside.

When then factoring in the relative playing abilities of great, very good, good, fair, below average and beginner (or novice) then one begins to understand the difficulty of combining all those major differences into a realistic approach to learning.

For many reasons (practical, hurtful, cosmetic, and just on different levels) it is difficult to lump all the factors that some succeed and others do not into bearding that beast. Bridge itself is off the charts in sophistication to some, but only a minor card game with arithmetic overtones to others.

The fact above is just another reason for it to be taught in schools with all the promise of learning to assimilate evidence, enlist equal teamwork between partners, adopt a better way to communicate with chosen bidding and legal signalling systems, and above all, to learn the dedication it takes to be successful in life by doing something difficult as well as can be done.

Again I could go on and on, but rather than just blather I want to save the place for it, when others in power will see fit to accept our premise and go much further in getting it done.

It is time the USA particularly understood the value to which bridge in the schools would accomplish. 3rd, 2019 at 5:11 am

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