Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: E-W


K 7 3

6 3

9 7 5 3

8 5 3 2



9 7 5 2

Q 10 8 4 2

J 10 6


J 9 8 6 5 2

10 8

K J 6

Q 4


A Q 4

A K Q J 4


A K 9 7


South West North East
2 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 2 NT Pass
3 Pass 4 Pass
4 Pass 5 Pass
6 All Pass    

Opening Lead: ten

“Nature made him and then broke the mold.”

— Ludovico Ariosto

At the Dyspeptics Club, West is thought to be capable of anything. But normally this involves finding unusual ways to lose tricks rather than win them. However, every dog has its day, and today was unquestionably West’s.


During the auction North had shown just a few points with his call of two no-trump since a bid of three clubs at his second turn would have shown values. He declined to cuebid his spade king after raising clubs, but South had enough to advance to the club slam.


On the lead of the spade 10, declarer could not tell who, if anyone, was short in spades. He elected to win in hand and was all set to cash the ace and king of clubs when West brought him up short by dropping the club 10 under the ace.


Now declarer had to consider the chance that West had a singleton club. He realized that he could protect against that eventuality by leading a low trump from hand at trick three, and using the spade king in dummy as an entry for a later finesse if necessary against East’s remaining honor. What he could not protect against was East winning the second club and giving West a spade ruff.


East’s praise for West’s defense was muted by the subsequent realization that West had sorted his hand with the club six in with his spades, and was simply following suit with his smallest card on the first round of trumps, rather than producing a brilliant false-card!


South Holds:

J 9 8 6 5 2
10 8
K J 6
Q 4


South West North East
1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
ANSWER: There are two tempting wrong trees to bark up. Some will feel inclined to rebid the weak spade suit; others will pass while the going is good, hoping to go plus. But with a respectable doubleton heart, I would prefer to give false preference to two hearts. If partner has a decent hand with short spades, we might make four hearts. If he has extras and three spades, we might make four spades.


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 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


JeffFebruary 10th, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Bobby, did you mean to say that North’s rebid of 3C would have “shown” values or did you mean to say that North’s rebid of 3C would have “denied”values (as a “second negative” type bid)?

Dropping one of the top two cards from JTx or T9x on the first round of a suit is a pretty standard false card. Do you think that South should have been taken in … assuming that second hand is a player respectable enough to make such a false card in tempo?

Bobby WolffFebruary 10th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Hi Jeff,

Your question is a good one and deserves an appropriate answer.

Yes, some players, usually a sophisticated set, play that a rebid of the cheapest minor (in this case, clubs) is a second negative, denying as much as three points. However, still others, (myself usually included) play instead that an immediate response of 2 hearts, instead of 2 diamonds, is a 2nd negative denying as many as three high card points, leaving 2 diamonds as a something bid which also then logically becomes a game force.

I must confess that good plays by a defender, such as this one (albeit in this case, by accident), would probably do me in and set me in this well bid excellent slam.

Jeff, the game of bridge is the master and if some player, regardless of who he is, claims that he has never fallen for a clever play, I’ll show you a rigid oaf who goes set too often, trying to outsmart the percentages. In my humble?? opinion the 4-1 club break (after the great false card) is far more likely to happen than is a singleton spade lead together with the clever false card.

Your final comment about the bridge acumen of the opening leader is pertinent, but what is any player to do, but play his singleton 10, if, in fact, he holds one?

The Aces appreciate your interest and especially your intelligent questions.

jim2February 10th, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Should East follow with the spade jack on the first trick?

Bobby WolffFebruary 11th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Hi Jim2,

The answer to the question you ask needs more thought at the time of execution than any human being is capable.

The one given would be that it is either a singleton jack or at least 5 and possibly what it is, 6, because if it is from length it includes holding the 9, otherwise there would be some danger in falsecarding.

Therefore, it follows that if it is a falsecard, there is almost no chance that East would then also have 4 clubs, making the possible safety play an unnecessary risk. Still further, if it is a legitimate play, then if West did hold 6 spades and the Q10 doubleton club, declarer would look nothing short of foolish not following through with the second high club.

The only comment I can authentically make is that for East to make such a play requires some thought which then would (should) preclude him from hesitating with a singleton. Also from our conclusion here the falsecard in this case is, from the above reasoning, harmful to EW in getting their desired result.

“Oh what a tangled web we (might) weave, when we practice to deceive”.