Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

I never resist temptation because I have found that things that are bad for me do not tempt me.

George Bernard Shaw

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

*Natural, promising values


This deal is part of our weekly overview of a general theme: handling a suit where we are missing the queen and jack. When the auction has marked one defender as more likely than his partner to hold length in a suit, we have safety plays to guard against the bad split. Today’s deal is a horse of a slightly different color.

When West pre-empted to two spades, South doubled, to which his partner responded three clubs to show constructive values. With less, he would have used the Lebensohl convention, bidding two no-trump as an artificial negative.

In four hearts, South ducked the spade lead, won the second round and noted that the only real danger was a hostile trump break. He could not guard against most breaks where West was short, but he had a play that was technically sound and also gave the defenders a chance to err. After taking the spade ace, he led the heart nine from dummy, a play that would pin a bare eight in West and would also allow East to fall from grace with a knee-jerk cover. East did precisely that by putting in the 10, and South won, collecting West’s queen in the process.

Declarer now led a diamond to the king and played a second trump, ducking East’s eight. East returned a diamond; declarer won his ace, crossed to the club ace and took the trump finesse, then drew the last trump. Then he played the club king and another club, conceding a club trick, after which his hand was high.

I would be unhappy about bidding either two or three clubs here. First, I might not have as much of a fit as I expected. Second, one call is an underbid, and the other overstates my offensive possibilities. I’d settle for a slightly flawed two-no-trump response, despite having only one diamond stopper. I’m the diamond jack short of my action — sue me!


♠ A 9 4
 9 5 4
 K 6 2
♣ A 9 3 2
South West North East
  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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieJune 6th, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Hi Bobby,

Given enough entries, also worth a try with AKQ7xx opposite 9xx. Of course East shouldn’t cover (has South really got KQ7xx and be intending to run the 9?) but …



bobbywolffJune 6th, 2019 at 12:50 pm

Hi Iain,

While I cannot add very much worthwhile to everything which has been, nor could be said, my long experience has convinced me that wily
declarers, on the whole and in the long run, get more fish, by, at the very least, taking the time to set the bait.

Sometimes the only calibration for such antics will come against specific opponents, however, when done,, whether successful or not, eg, suit breaks 3-2 with no consequences, a thinking player (everyone would take to such a label), tends to consistently not miss a trick (please excuse) in applying such subterfuge.
hoping to land a contract where others will routinely fail.

Finally, advantage opponents, with the only defense, prior planning (or superlative and quick competitive judgment), in tempo ducking, which every now and then, may be judged as a clear error when playing against a cowboy type bridge player who is always ready to back his prairie (in Ireland, dell or glen) judgment.

To plagiarize you, but…

Michael BeyroutiJune 6th, 2019 at 8:38 pm

Didn’t know that a simple but… could be seen as plagiarism. Unless, of course, the … are an exact copy of the original author’s thoughts.

bobbywolffJune 6th, 2019 at 9:24 pm

Hi Michael,

Does that mean that all copy cats are copy rats, or has someone said that already, but…who besides the judge and/or jury determine the late author’s thoughts?