Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 4, 2009



Vul: None

J 9 4
8 5 4
K 9 6 5
Q 8 2
West East
10 8 A K Q 6 5 2
2 7 6 3
Q J 10 8 7 3 4
A J 4 3 10 7 5
7 3
A K Q J 10 9
A 2
K 9 6
South West North East
3 Pass Pass
4 All pass

Opening Lead: Q

“A worker may be the hammer’s master, but the hammer still prevails. A tool knows exactly how it is meant to be handled, while the user of the tool can only have an approximate idea.”

— Milan Kundera

One of my colleagues at world championships for many years, the distinguished New Zealand player and administrator John Wignall, found this nice play in four hearts.

Before you look at the play, consider what material you wish to use for your 10th trick. A squeeze seems unlikely; so how will you utilize those club spots to produce an extra trick?

The defenders started normally enough by leading a top diamond rather than a spade. Declarer won in hand, drew trumps, and now exited with a spade to East.

A club shift would have been immediately fatal, so East could do nothing but play off the three top spades. When West discarded, that marked him as having been dealt a 2-1-6-4 shape.

Now all Wignall needed was for West to hold the club ace. He ruffed the third spade and led out his penultimate trump, dummy still having three diamonds and three clubs. What five cards was West to keep? If he kept two diamonds and three clubs, declarer would pitch a club from the board. Then he would ruff out the diamonds and use the club queen as an entry to North’s winner. By contrast, if West pitched a club, then declarer would lead to the club queen and duck a club on the way back. West’s ace would fall on empty air.

Either way, declarer was home, for a game swing to his side when the line was missed in the other room.

ANSWER: Partner has shown clubs and spades and a good hand — and no interest in defending facing heart length or he would have doubled. You have useful cards for partner in each of his suits so should bid, not pass; and since your partner’s clubs should be longer than his spades, you should bid three clubs now.


South Holds:

J 9 4
8 5 4
K 9 6 5
Q 8 2
South West North East
1 1
Pass Pass 1 2

If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, feel free to leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2009.


Anthony MoonApril 18th, 2009 at 4:27 pm


Another great ending. I can see why you like playing with him.

Bobby WolffApril 19th, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Hi Anthony,

Although I have known John and his sensational wife, Adele, for at least 35+ years I have only played with him once or twice and those times were purely social. However, we have been together many times on WBF Appeals Committees, WBF Executive Council meetings and WBF Management meetings. He also has traveled to America to attend our Nationals many times, which also included attending our ACBL Laws Commission meetings.

At least to me, one of the most unique and gratifying experiences of my life has been the different cultural bonding between the thoughts and ideas of people brought up and bent in different directions, especially having to do with developing our great game, Contract Bridge, and exchanging ideas on how to conduct tournaments. John has always been in favor of looser rules involving different types of bidding methods, favoring allowing most anything goes, as long as he is satisfied that the ethics of the game have been upheld.

That sometimes conflicts with my general idea that opponents are entitled to know at least, almost as much about the bidding used against them, as are the ones using the unusual methods. Perhaps chalk that up to “Down Under” people (John and Adele are from New Zealand) being more adventurous than most Americans who have become spoiled with their creature comforts and being a member of a much larger organizational group, the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) which codifies what we are allowed to do, what we cannot,

and the reasons for it.

Everything considered, Judy’s and my friendship with Adele and John will be forever and all four of us will always be dedicated to doing what we consider to be in the best interests of world wide bridge.