Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 31st, 2011

Dealer: West

Vul: Both


J 3

5 4

A J 7 6 4

A 10 4 3


Q 8 6 5 2

Q 10 9 8

K 9 8 3


K 10

J 7 6 3

Q 10 2

K 7 6 2


A 9 7 4

A K 2


Q J 9 8 5


South West North East
  Pass Pass Pass
1 Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass 3 Pass
3 Pass 5 All Pass

Opening Lead: ten

“Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.”

— Arnold H. Glasgow

With North bidding correctly, South should not end up in an inferior contract of three no-trump. He can foresee that there might be only eight tricks at no-trump — four clubs, two hearts, a spade and a diamond. The no-trump game may be right if the North hand is balanced. But if North holds the diamond ace and the club ace or king, together with nine cards in the two suits, there should be a good play for five clubs. South’s major top cards cover three of the four plain-suit losers, leaving only one loser there — the rest can be ruffed out. The only other loser is a high trump.


This picture foreshadows the actual play. The right approach is to ruff out South’s two spade losers after giving up one spade trick. South must be careful, however, on a heart lead. He ruffs two diamonds in hand while ruffing a heart in dummy, then takes the spade ace and a second spade. East wins to return a trump.


South wins in hand and discovers the bad break. This should not disrupt declarer’s ability to make his game, though. To insure his 11 tricks, South must now ruff the third round of spades with the ace. To let East overruff the third spade and lead another trump would be fatal, but this way North saves the trump 10 for the fourth round of spades and makes the game.


South Holds:

Q 7 5 4
8 5
A 3
J 9 5 4 3


South West North East
Pass 1 Pass 2
Pass 2 Pass 3 NT
All Pass      
ANSWER: It is generally right, when in doubt, to lead from a five-card suit, not a four-carder. Here, although you can lead through dummy’s spades, your own spots are so weak that you need partner to have a very good spade suit, in which case he might have been able to double the spade bid. A club lead needs less from your partner, so it would be my choice.


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


bobbywolffFebruary 14th, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Hi everyone,

Since the poor Valentine Aces on Bridge Monday column has no comments (at least, yet) I thought I would manufacture one which only very indirectly is concerned with cards.

I, like many others, are subject to various political discussions concerned with much going on around the world and particularly internal USA discussions regarding immigration and its handling.

My only contribution, at least up to now, is to suggest that if and when a person or family decides to change countries he basically should owe a duty to the one he and his are moving to, learn its #1 language. It is not only culturally sound, but practically necessary, if he wants to blend into his new community and, more importantly, be a creative and positive influence.

After saying the above, at least until yesterday, I have never given an example which gives credibility to that demand.

However, yesterday where Judy and I go to gamble (here in Las Vegas) at the Sun Coast suburban hotel and casino we sat down, as is our tri weekly custom, at a Superfun 21 Blackjack table we occupied 3 spots (I try and play 2 hands) while the other 3 spots were taken up by two ladies and one gentleman. At my far left and occupying the spot which is affectionately nicknamed 3rd base was a very well-dressed and attractive relatively youngish lady who obviously spoke very little, if any, English.

On the hand in question the dealer dealt herself a turned up six and after the other five players either hit (making sure not to bust) the choices went to the pretty female. She was dealt an ace four and got in order a two and two more aces totalling either nine or nineteen and with five cards. After waiving off another hit, I somewhat precipitously piped up and suggested that, since 6 cards below 21 automatically win the hand in Superfun 21 she would have a cinch if she took another card. The dealer seemed to be in favor of my pronouncement (in spite of it not being in the best interest of the house) but my blurt did not dissuade the lady from putting her palms down, meaning “Don’t hit me”! The dealer then turned over her hole card which was a Queen (totaling 16) and then proceeded to hit a four which blitzed the table with all bets going to the house.

As a point of information the next card after the dealer’s infamous four, would have been an eight, confirming that if third base had taken the four, guaranteeing (as any card would have) a win, dealer would have busted, sending all the money to the players.

Quiet reigned, bad feelings were politely withheld, but since obviously the lady in the spotlight did not speak English she was not able to protect everyone at the table, and even much more importantly to her, herself.

We all know (or at least should) that the next cards in line in the deck are totally random and the opposite of what actually happened might have really occurred wherein the whole table might have then won instead of lost, but my point is that it was a slam dunk for her to take another card, but alas since she did not understand the rules nor the language, at least in this case, the whole table paid a price.

To me the above is symptomatic of the effect of not being able to communicate and I, since my hearing is very poor, often subject others to similar occurrences, which is always better off not happening. Life goes on and as such, serves as learning exercises for all of us to benefit. Sometimes it is a matter of fate, but never forget the “human conditions’ which prevail, while sometimes not logical, are still there for all of us to have to endure.

immigrantApril 14th, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Dear Mr. Wolff,

while I agree with you completely that, if a person decides to live and work in other country that the one is which he/she was born, I also believe that learning a (maybe) whole new language is not a easy thing to do and it might take some time. Eventually, all the people who decide to emigrate will learn (better or worse, sooner or later) the language of the country of adoption, if not for other reason, at least for the necessity to communicate at their place of work.

Although I don’t usually post comments on web sites, limiting myself to read (almost all the time) others’ comments, this time I wanted to point you one thing. Maybe you already thought about this but, somehow you didn’t make the clarification: it is very possible (from your article) that the young lady was a tourist.

Other than that, I want to thank you for your great site, which I really enjoy reading.

All the best!