Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 27, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: None


K 10 8 7


J 6

K Q J 9 8 5


J 9

K Q 8 7 6

9 8 7 2

10 3


5 2

A 4

A K 5 3

A 7 6 4 2


A Q 6 4 3

J 9 5 3 2

Q 10 4


South West North East
1 Pass 2 NT* Pass
3 Pass 4 All Pass
*Invitational or better in spades

Opening Lead: 8

“The deed is everything, the glory nothing.”

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Over several years of competing in youth tournaments, Thomas Bessis has been a rich source of top-quality declarer play and defense. In the junior European Championships, Thomas produced his finest effort against England in the final match.

It looks as though Chris Owens’ contract of four spades is destined to make, courtesy of the ruffing club finesse, but…

Bessis’ partner, Frederic Volcker, led the diamond eight, second from three or more small cards, and Bessis won the king and cashed the ace. Atthey false-carded with the queen as Volcker dropped the two, confirming two or four cards — clearly four on the auction. Bessis now deviously switched to the club seven, and not surprisingly, declarer was taken in. Atthey ruffed low and gave up a heart, Bessis winning the ace and returning a diamond to declarer’s 10. Atthey ruffed a heart, ruffed a club, and ruffed a heart, being relieved to see that Bessis could not overruff. He now ruffed another club, but Volcker could overruff and that was two down.

How did Bessis find the brilliant underlead? He deduced that his partner would surely have led a singleton club rather than one of four small diamonds, so was marked with either two clubs or a void. Once declarer was known to have three diamonds, plus heart length because of the auction, it had to be he and not Volcker who had the club void.

Because the French North-South pair had played in four clubs down one in the other room, Bessis’ fine defense turned a big loss into a small gain.


South Holds:

A Q 6 4 3
J 9 5 3 2
Q 10 4


South West North East
  Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
ANSWER: With a nine-count albeit a shapely one, facing a hand with no obvious fit, there seems no reason to get beyond the two-level. The simple preference to two diamonds is admittedly conservative, but seems sufficient. The idea is to let partner bid on if he has extras in shape or high cards and stay low if he does not.


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


Rick WilliamsSeptember 11th, 2010 at 4:16 am

I may be missing something, but after ruffing the club why didn’t declarer just draw two trumps and pitch the heart? Then he can afford to lose a club but ends up making five.

Bobby WolffSeptember 11th, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Hi Rick (AKA eagle eye),

No, you are not missing anything. Obviously, Thomas Bessis, cashed his ace of hearts before underleading his club ace, causing declarer to try and ruff out West’s hypothetical club ace. Sorry for our misleading reporting and thanks to you for providing the clarity.