Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, December 7, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
1 Dbl. 3 Pass
4 Pass Pass Dbl.
Rdbl. All Pass    

Opening Lead:7

“Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”

— Mark Twain

In today’s deal, from an online tournament, South’s redouble was far from unreasonable — but as matters progressed, declarer was pleased he could not see the faces of the other three players at the end of the deal!


West led the heart seven against four spades doubled and redoubled. South played low from dummy and East played the jack — a card to which declarer paid too little heed. Declarer could have drawn trumps ending in dummy and taken a diamond finesse. Later he could cross back to dummy with another trump for a second diamond finesse. That would work if the diamond honors were divided, but South thought he could see a way to do better. If he could eliminate the clubs and hearts before diamonds were played, he would succeed even if West held both diamond honors.


So at trick two South played a trump. When West showed out, declarer realized he could not draw all the trumps before playing a club, as he might run out of entries to dummy. So at trick three he played a club. West won and surprised South by giving his partner a heart ruff. Now East switched to a diamond, and declarer could not afford to duck because he would lose another heart ruff. So he rose with the ace, belatedly drew the last trump, and eventually had to lose two diamond tricks for one down.


The flaw in South’s plan was failing to draw a second trump before playing the club. That would have prevented the defenders from getting two ruffs.

ANSWER: You would normally lead your long suit here, but your opponents’ auction does strongly suggest concern over clubs. Unless East is the sort of smart aleck who might be trying to put you off a diamond lead, I would go with the club 10 and apologize to partner later if declarer has fooled you.


South Holds:

K J 3
J 4 2
Q 9 7 6
10 9 5


South West North East
  1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 3
Pass 3 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 2009. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Ross TaylorDecember 21st, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Actually, I saw my cat blush once Bobby. One morning a few years ago she was tip toeing between the stair rails on the top floor of our house. Somehow, she lost her normally impeccable balance.

Next thing you know, there is an airborne kitty descending three full floors in mid air from the top floor down to the basement level, paws flailing hopelessly and helplessly.

She survived physically intact, but the emotional scars still haunt her to this day.

The look of embarassment, even in the animal kingdom, I now understand is universal.

From a lifelong blusher and fan


PS I liked this hand. I think East forgot to bid over 3 spades. Maybe that explains why s/he felt the need to double 4S, as s/he was guilty of undisclosed values? The double was blush worthy too.

Bobby WolffDecember 22nd, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Hi Ross,

Yes, “there were blushes all around, but I never saw them flushing”, “no, I never saw them at all, till there was ewe”. If only your cat would have been a pet sheep we could coin a song. Speaking of sheep, some ranchers keep them as pets, but that is another story.

Also, yes, East was very misguided to not bid 4 clubs at his first opportunity instead of opting to make a “blush worthy” double at his second. Instead of going -790 in 4 spades doubled (with proper declarer play) EW could go +750 in 5 clubs doubled. West would have turned out to be a hero for conjuring up that awkward TO double of 1 spade, not to mention South to be, in a sense, blessed by, according to the account, of failing to make 4 spades doubled, but to have to bear instead the ignomine (or is it ignomy?) of being fixed to the tune of -750.

What is the analysis of all this excitement? Perhaps we could describe it as, from West’s point of view, “Be aggressive with the proper shape”, from East “It is much too dangerous to not venture 4 clubs”, but instead decide to double 4 spades with no tricks in sure sight.

I only wish that I would have the proper shape, but in order to get it, I have to change my eating habits.

All in all, a great hand for the bridge puppeteer, who controls all the action. Can anyone, anywhere, say that bridge is not a great game? I certainly do not think so!