Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Vulnerable: East-West

Dealer: South


Q J 6 4

A Q J 3

6 5

9 5 2


8 7

10 8 7 4 2

8 3

Q J 10 4


K 10 5 3

9 6

A 7

A 8 7 6 3


A 9 2

K 5

K Q J 10 9 4 2



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

Opening Lead: Club queen

“His thinking does not result in smoke after the flashing fire, but in light emerging from the smoke.”

— Horace

North-South did well to avoid three no-trump today, but East, the venerable comedian George Burns, playing with me as his partner, could have spoiled his opponents’ good work. Can you see how?

At the table East won his club ace at the first trick, and when the king appeared, he played a forcing game by continuing the attack on clubs. Not surprisingly, this line of defense was doomed to failure. Declarer drove out the trump ace, ruffed the next club, drew the rest of the trumps, ran the hearts, and did not even need to take the spade finesse for his contract.

At the end of the first trick, East can tell from the auction that declarer rates to have a singleton club and either five or six cards in the majors, together with almost every missing high card. A spade return can hardly help; instead, East should try to disrupt declarer’s communications in case South has his actual hand-pattern.

At trick two, Easts shifts to a heart, hoping that declarer only has a doubleton heart. Declarer wins the heart king and plays the diamond queen. East wins the ace and plays a second heart, leaving declarer unable to run the hearts because there are still trumps out.

The best chance he has for his contract is to try to cash a third heart, then take the spade finesse. But East can ruff in at once, and there is an inevitable spade loser now.


South holds:

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


South West North East
1 NT Pass
2 Dbl. Rdbl. Pass
ANSWER: Redouble here shows good clubs and suggests a place to play. You should be delighted to pass and play the contract here. Not only should it be relatively easy to come to eight tricks, but who says you can make any other game?


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


John Howard GibsonAugust 18th, 2011 at 11:35 am

HBJ : This hand illustrates the sublime art of the game : prioritising correctly.

It seems natural to force in clubs hoping to promote a trump trick of your own, or to play on clubs for fear of finessing yourself or partner. Yet, the clear priority is to protect your king of spades by disrupting (severing ) communication between the two hands.

This defence will not be apparent to ordinary players, but to experts who read the cards, play on assumptions about declarer’s shape and distribution, it comes with the territory.

These are very instructive hands which sadly I feel fail to reach a wider audience which would truly benefit from them.

They’re certainly helping me though. Thanks.

Bobby WolffAugust 18th, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Hi HBJ (courtesy of JHG, aka Dr. Jekyll),

You are a remarkable man, while probably not a world class bridge player, but instead, a more worthy all-star psychologist, who is more than just familiar with the workings of the world and how most people think.

Your talent abounds in such a positive way that the only person, although fictional, I could compare you with is the 900 year old guru from the fantasy “Star Wars”, named Yoda.

Thanks for taking the time and effort to lend us your thoughts and please, never make yourself a stranger.