Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: Both


8 7 6

K J 9 6 5 4 3

A 10 7


A J 10 9 8 5

Q 10 7 2

K 5 3


6 3

A Q 10 4

Q J 9 8 6 4 2


K Q 7 4 2

K J 9 5 3 2

A 8


South West North East
1 1 2 3
Pass 5 5 Dbl.
All Pass      

Opening Lead: Club 3

“World is crazier and more of it than we think,

Incorrigibly plural.”

— Louis Macneice

What do you think the result of a heart contract for North-South might be on this deal? With trumps 4-0 and a foul spade break, it seems you would be struggling in game however you play it, but appearances are sometimes deceptive.


Both tables in a USA-Netherlands match competed to five hearts, and were doubled. When Bob Hamman and I were defending, Hamman led a club. Declarer took the ace in dummy and played a heart to the king, followed by the diamond ace. I ruffed, cashed my top trumps, and then exited with a spade. Hamman won the ace and thoughtfully continued with a diamond, breaking up any pressure in the endgame and collecting two more spade tricks for a penalty of 800.


By contrast, in the other room our teammate Richard Freeman won the club ace and chose to play a heart to the jack. Such a small difference, but now he could advance the spade king from hand, covered and ruffed, and then lead a second heart from dummy. With the defensive spade communication cut, all East could do was win his ace and play a second spade. Freeman took the queen and played the heart king and another heart; East got his two trump tricks, but had only clubs left to lead. Freeman ruffed and led his last trump, and West was painfully squeezed in spades and diamonds. Whatever he did, declarer had the rest, for plus 850 and 17 IMPs to the USA!


South Holds:

8 7 6
K J 9 6 5 4 3
A 10 7


South West North East
3 Pass 3 Pass
ANSWER: You may not want to make a call, but the laws demand it. You cannot pass, because your partner’s bid is forcing, and repeating such a feeble diamond suit seems wrong. Since a bid of four clubs is a cue-bid for spades, and you would rather have slightly better spades for that action, bid three no-trump, and let the chips fall where they may.


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


jim2September 21st, 2011 at 3:09 pm

At 5C doubled, would you have ducked the KS lead?


Bobby WolffSeptember 21st, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Hi Jim2,

I would like to think that I would, but alas, I probably wouldn’t.

However, a philosophical discussion about time consumption, while playing high-level bridge, is probably warranted.

I am a fast player, probably too quick, which invariably makes me more susceptible to error. Let us consider the difference between chess and bridge. While playing chess, everything is laid out in front of the player and his opponent, and by that specific fact alone, there are no ethical strictures such as giving unauthorized information (UI) which is definitely not true in bridge.

Enter time measured by chess clocks, which incidentally some bridge aficionados think should be used to also measure sometimes and almost always arguably, unnecessary time, consumed by slow bridge players.

Yes, bridge time should also be judged and irritating slowness should NOT be allowed, but especially so when UI could be involved when the defense takes the time. Also as declarer, the debate rages as to the ethicality to being unduly slow to the point of ridiculous, even by declarer where UI is not an issue.

In the interest of not writing (and possibly boring) forever I will end my rant abruptly by saying there, at least to me, certain time restrictions ever present in bridge, which should be responsibly felt by all players and dealt with accordingly. Granted, there are some very thorny problems which arise which sometimes are disguised and in reality may make a significant difference or, on the other hand, may not.

However, my own opinion is that bridge should be played at a much faster pace than should chess, even sometimes at the cost of accuracy and especially by the defense because of UI and by everyone because of sheer enjoyment of the game itself by the players and like other big time TV, moneyed sports, by all the viewers and in bridge, kibitzers.

The key word in this whole discussion has to be REASONABLE or at least close to that meaning.