Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

A 7 3
J 5 4 3 2
Q 10 7
Q 10
West East
J 10 8 5 4 Q
10 9 7 8 6
A J K 9 4 3 2
K 4 2 J 8 7 6 3
K 9 6 2
8 6 5
A 9 5


South West North East
1 Pass 2 All Pass
*Playing four card majors and a weak no-trump

Opening Lead:4

“The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.”

— William Blake

Today’s deal decided the fate of a recent major tournament in England. Curiously, it was nicely played by the team that lost the event, and misdefended by the winners.


Declarer, Michelle Brunner, did exceptionally well in an awkward spot after her four-card spade suit was raised to the two-level and passed out. West led a trump and East’s queen was allowed to hold trick one.


That player switched to a club, which West won with the king, and continued with a second club to dummy’s queen. Brunner now played a heart to hand, cashed the club ace while pitching a diamond from dummy, and protected herself against a bad trump break by playing two more top hearts.


When East failed to ruff, the position was clear. Declarer exited with a diamond to West’s ace, and West returned her diamond jack to her partner’s king. When East played a minor-suit card, West had to ruff with the eight, but declarer simply overruffed in dummy and ran the trump seven. West won the 10, but then was endplayed to lead a spade into declarer’s K-9.


When West was in with the club king, she should have played ace and another diamond. The diamond ruff would have been her fifth defensive trick, with a certain trump trick to come.


So why did this result cost the event for North-South? In the other room the final contract of three no-trump could not be defeated, so they lost a game swing here.

ANSWER: There is a case for bidding game here (and if my partner is a good dummy-player, I would do that). With such good black-suit cards, this hand is worth more than it would appear; but maybe three spades is enough.  If your partner cannot bid on, you probably have not missed anything.


South Holds:

A 7 3
J 5 4 3 2
Q 10 7
Q 10


South West North East
    1 Pass

Pass 1

1 NT Pass 2



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 2009. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


bruce karlsonJune 4th, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Finished TLW.

As you point out, with scads of money at stake, and in a world that devalues character, one must not be surprised that cheating in varied forms is on the ascent. While that is truly depressing, particularly by the “Blues”, as they were reputed to be gentlemen of the first order, it is much more troubling that no antidote is in sight. Absent the ground swell of younger players, and with sclerotic self serving boards making decisions, suspect things will not get better. It cannot be that difficult to write computer program to anlalyse and pop out suspect scores, which could be then brought to the attention of the players. Obviously that is not proof, but it might give the cheaters pause.

Nowhere is the corruption more obvious than in Judy’s case. The suggeston that the appeal was frivolous and worthy of sanction speaks volumes about the state of affairs…and that these cowards used Judy to “get back” at you.

I agree that the book had to be written and should be read widely, but neither the writing (I suspect) or the reading leave one feeling stronger about the future of our great game. We need a ground swell of indignation but, with most members long of tooth, that is not likely.

Several of my bridge buddies want to read it; ergo, it will be read but will not add to sales.


Bobby WolffJune 4th, 2009 at 6:40 pm

Hi Bruce,

Your summation on the “State of the Union e.g.(league)” sadly is very accurate.

Taking your comments in order, yes the “Blues” were gentlemen, impeccably dressed and mannered (and good looking to boot). They were also ethical at the table with no undue hesitations or otherwise irritating mannerisms. One must be aware of the Italian culture, which although lovable and caring, also condones all kinds of cheating in business and conning in everything else, especially shady and anything goes politics. Perhaps to them, cheating is certainly not the worst of crimes, but rather a means to an end and embraced by a nationality promoting it. It is little wonder that their prime mover and long time Captain required what he called, “giving necessary help to one’s partner as a prerequisite to being a candidate for the team”.

Your suggestion of writing a computer program in order to systemically weed out cheating is a wonderful one, but since I am down the list in computer savvy, I could offer little help, only serious encouragment, to anyone who may attempt it. A key here is to be able to present evidence to courts of little bridge understanding in order to combat dangerous law suits which might develop. A tall task but worth doing!

Yes, Judy’s case was nothing short of outrageous, but perhaps the bridge Puppeteer had the book in mind for allowing it to happen. If the reporting would create the leverage to do something positive about improving the process then it might be all worth it (although unlikely to satisfy Judy). Whether I was a factor in the decision is all speculative, but, of course, it is very possible and, at least to my mind, probable.

Perhaps the “longest journey begins with a single step” and possibly the book is that step. If so, our future generations might benefit from learning bridge history and step up and be counted. If we had more Bruce Karlsons around, I have no doubt that it would happen.

Finally, I not only don’t mind your friends borrowing your book and me not getting a royalty from it, but rather rejoice in your getting the word out. Money is one thing, but bridge’s perilous future is all encompassing to my happiness.

Thank you for continuing to support the hoped for crusade!!

Your very good friend and admirer,