Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: N/S

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


South West North East
    1 4
4 All Pass    

Opening Lead: King

“A mind not to be changed by place or time,

The mind is its own place, and in itself

Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.”

— John Milton

In a perfect world, you and I would bid the North-South cards to four no-trump. But the world is not perfect, and when this deal came up in the rubber bridge game at the Dyspeptics Club, South had a straightforward bid of four spades over East’s pre-emptive call of four hearts.


The play of the cards was also slightly less than perfect. Before we criticize declarer too highly, consider how you would play four spades when West hits upon the lead of the club king. I too might have made the mistake that South did. Acting on autopilot, he called for dummy’s ace. As a friend of mine would say in such situations, “Up went the ace; down went the contract!”


East ruffed away the club ace and played a top heart, leaving declarer with three apparently inescapable side-suit losers. Declarer did his best by winning the heart ace, ruffing out the diamonds, then drawing two rounds of trump ending in dummy and leading a low heart. But East could see that if he won the trick, he would have to concede a ruff and sluff. He ducked the heart, and West won his jack to cash two club tricks.


South ought to have known that he had 10 sure tricks unless East ruffed the club ace. South should have ducked dummy’s club ace — four times if need be — and ruffed the fourth club in hand. Then he could discard his losing heart on the club ace after drawing trumps.

ANSWER: If ever a hand could be found to demonstrate the WRONG holding for an overcall, this is it. Your clubs and hand are too weak, the overcall takes up no space, your partner is a passed hand, etc. I can’t guarantee that if you do overcall you will get into trouble. I can say that you deserve to!


South Holds:

Q 3 2
A 3
K 6 5
A 6 5 4 2


South West North East
    Pass 1


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 2010. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact