Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 29th, 2011

Vulnerable: East-West

Dealer: East



A 10

K Q J 7 6 5 4

J 9 3


A 10 9 8 7 6

Q 8

3 2

8 5 4


K Q J 5 4 3

5 3

A 8

A Q 10


K J 9 7 6 4 2

10 9

K 7 6 2


South West North East
4 4 5 Dbl.
All pass

Opening Lead: Diamond three

“All men are liable to error; and most men are, in many points, by passion or interest, under temptation to it.”

— John Locke

Most of the success in card play comes from doing the right thing, but there is a special joy in deception — persuading your opponents to do the wrong thing. One important precept to keep in mind is that dropping what you know to be a vulnerable honor may convince declarer that suits are breaking badly.

One of my favorite examples of dropping a high card to mislead declarer comes from the ever-fertile mind of Pietro Forquet, playing with Benito Garozzo in a tournament in Naples.

I’m not sure why Forquet led the diamond three against five hearts. It was a rather surprising choice, but one that allowed the position to develop nicely. Garozzo won the diamond ace, cashed the club ace (on which Forquet discouraged with the four), and then tried to give Forquet a diamond ruff.

Declarer won in hand and appears to need trumps to be 2-2 since there were no longer any entries to dummy. So he cashed the heart king, on which Forquet dropped the queen! Declarer now saw the chance to be brilliant. He overtook with the ace and played diamonds, waiting to overruff Garozzo and then get back to dummy with the heart 10 to run the rest of the diamonds. This plan did not succeed as well as he had hoped, leaving the words of the Hideous Hog to Papa ringing in my ears: “Maybe if you didn’t try to be so clever, you wouldn’t end up looking so stupid.”


South holds:

K Q J 5 4 3
5 3
A 8
A Q 10


South West North East
1 1
1 2 Pass Pass
ANSWER: If North has as little as king-sixth of clubs and the two major-suit aces, you rate to be able to make a grand slam. So take it slowly by doubling two hearts for takeout. Next, you can cue-bid to set up a game force and take it from there. A direct cue-bid here is simply asking for a heart stop for no-trump and uses up a round of bidding inefficiently.


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


jim2May 13th, 2011 at 10:54 am

I really do not fault the declarer for this one. Sometimes, you just have to pay off to plays like this one of Forquet’s.

With nothing at stake and with time to reflect, I can see that once the trump king has been led, all four outstanding trump are essentially equals, but there is no way I would work that out at the table, much less in tempo as West.

As declarer, even if I decided the defender was up to this play, restricted choice would point me to playing West as having a singleton.

John Howard GibsonMay 13th, 2011 at 2:24 pm

HBJ : Just a curious thought. If East/West didn’t go to 5S given that there have an 12 card fit in spades, plus a decent club holding (AQ10) and an outside Ace of diamonds does this suggest,,,,possible hint at…… each holding two losing hearts ?

If this inference is adopted then declarer would get the right line.

If either one of them had a singleton heart, 5S is only one off on the same lead, and minus 200 is as good save against a very makeable 5H.

bobbywolffMay 13th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Hi Jim2,

As usual, you are right on all counts. Your explanatory discussion about once declarer plays the king of trumps, all four of the outstanding trumps are equal is indigenous to the game we play.

A simple, but perhaps not a complete description, of why you wouldn’t be able to make such a play as the falsecard of the queen without a break in tempo is almost entirely one of inexperience of playing at the top level (not that anyone else, other than Pietro Forquet, would be capable of making such a brilliancy either). But, just perhaps he, like you, realized that his queen being worthless might as well be thrown, just because sometimes and from sudden reflexes a card is falsecarded which might lead to such a different favorable result which no one would have had the time to figure out why.

The mere fact of showing such appreciation for one who did is indicative, at least to me, of on one very special day, you too, might just be qualified to bask in such sunshine.

Needless to say, your knowledge of restricted choice would compel you to think that the queen being singleton would be the percentage play rather than a 2-2 split and when one then considers how few would falsecard in that situation it then becomes a slam dunk to be victimized by it. Pietro was, no doubt fortunate that the declarer was capable of seeing a way to make it, assuming the play of the queen was singleton.

Otherwise the whole wonderful tale becomes almost the opposite of the theme from The Postman Always Rings Twice and instead of justice being done because of, justice in that case would not be done.

JaneMay 13th, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Hi Bobby,

Yesterday at the club, I , as opener, held this hand-





My first instinct was to open the hand three diamonds, but I passed, thinking I would get the chance to bid later. The hand was passed out and we got average. Fourth seat could have opened the hand as he held five spades, four clubs and 16 points using the rule of 15. Since we were the only ones who passed the hand out, I assume either opener jumped in or fourth seat did.

I am betting you would have opened this hand, but I am not a high stakes gambler either. So would I win or lose on this “bet”?

Thanks in advance, as usual.

bobbywolffMay 13th, 2011 at 4:18 pm


You are still eating your fish heads and the inference that the opponents hearts are 2-2 because of (as you say) that holding 12 spades between them they didn’t continue on, but rather stopped to double you in 5 hearts indicating that the hearts are getting ready to break 2-2.

However, the thought that the opponents figured out exactly that they would be down 1 at 5 spades against possibly making with a 3-1 break in hearts, instead of 2-2, is beyond the scope of any bridge player, even the world’s best, but your initial reflection is as right as it can be.

However, Forquet’s brilliant falsecard would, no doubt, nab all comers, overriding supposition for practicality simply because no human being can think that fast.

You are like the lyrics from the song “Thank Heaven for Little Girls”, your bridge game is “growing up in the most delightful way”.

bobbywolffMay 13th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Hi Jane,

I would only open 3 diamonds as a 3d (or possibly 4th) seat player. The hand has way too much potential to only open 3 diamonds with the possibility that if partner held any heart length we will probably be able to make a large number of hearts and would not be able to get there if I opened 3 diamonds.

It is VERY unusual with that distribution and only 9 HCP.s for the hand to be passed out, but so it happened.

Well, average is not so bad.

NickMay 14th, 2011 at 1:28 am

Hi Bobby,

For this question, are we allowed to submit our deals to the Monday-Saturday papers, if yes, then my deal will appear with my deal and the bidding for Monday, and you may create the opening lead section. If not, then I might as well see your column with some tournaments, book deals, your deals, pairs, teams, and etc.

NickMay 16th, 2011 at 12:21 am

I am changing my mind. For your deal on Monday, wouldn’t my deal work for Tuesday?

bobbywolffMay 16th, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Hi Nick,

Please forgive me, but I am a little confused on what you are either asking me or telling me.

It appears to be something about a hand you would like to submit, to be used in a column, not a Sunday question and answer session, but I may be off base about your wishes.

Whatever, I would be pleased for you to submit a possible column, or even just a theme, as long as you are patient as to when it will appear, since we are months ahead in our dealing with our syndicate, consequently necessitating at least a 4 or 5 month lag time before it can be edited and be ready for publication.

If there is something missing, or worse, that I am not understanding your intentions, please either let me know, or don’t bother following this comment up.

Thank you for whatever your action will be.