Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 16th, 2011

Dealer: East

Vul: Both


10 9 6 5

K 2

A K Q 5 3

9 7


A 8 4 3

10 8

J 6 4 2

J 6 3


K Q 2

A J 7 5

10 8 7

8 5 4


J 7

Q 9 6 4 3


A K Q 10 2


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
3 Pass 3 Pass
3 NT All Pass    

Opening Lead: Spade 3

“It is not enough to do good; one must do it the right way.”

— Viscount Morley

Do you enjoy measuring your performance against that of the world’s experts? If so, take the East seat and cover up the South and West hands. You will be defending against three no-trump.


Partner leads the spade three (fourth-highest leads) and your queen holds. Where do you go for honey? It can do no harm to cash the spade king, for if South had held the ace, he would have played it on your queen, trying to guarantee a second trick in the suit for his side. Your concern is the whereabouts of the spade jack. If your partner has that card, life should be easy for the defense.


Irritatingly, South produces the jack under your king. South must have most of the outstanding honors, apart from the spade ace, for his bidding. How do you set up an extra trick for your side?


The bottom line is that nothing you do really matters if declarer has a doubleton diamond, but what if he has a singleton diamond? Maybe you can disrupt his communications.


So reasoned Italian World Champion Alfredo Versace, who returned a low diamond to the nine, jack and ace. See the effect of this. Declarer is forced to take dummy’s three diamond tricks before he is ready to do so — which would have been after he had set up a heart trick and not before. Now declarer could not come to nine tricks before the defenders came to five, the fifth being West’s diamond six.


South Holds:

A 8 4 3
10 8
J 6 4 2
J 6 3


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 2 2 Pass
3 Pass 3 Pass
ANSWER: Your partner has shown significant extras with three spades, four hearts and five clubs. Your three-club call was nonforcing, but even so you do not seem to have anything to spare. You should simply revert to four clubs and let partner move on if he still has something in hand.


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 30th, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I wonder if Versace would have led the ten if the Board had had the six.

If not, would his partner have let the nine hold?

Bobby WolffSeptember 30th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes and yes. One thing about the Italians, both past and present, but only applying to the three greatest in the past, Garozzo, Belladonna and Forquet, they, as a group, were incredibly imaginative and would mentally piece together a declarer’s hand which would become vulnerable to a certain defense and then have the courage to play him for it. Today the best and now most experienced Italians, Duboin, Bocchi, Lauria, Versace, Sementa and Ferraro are capable of the same type of scintillating and imaginative defense, although without the illegal help the present ones DO NOT give and get from their partners. The former three would be on almost everyone’s list of the greatest of all time, but were teamed with others who were actually not much better than average + club players. The present ones do not avail themselves of this extra illegal help making them not quite as effective, but does not take anything away from their remarkable ability.

“Seek the truth and the truth shall make ye free”.

Progress is progress and we, in the mix, among the better players, are indeed fortunate that current world bridge, for the most part, has taken this positive turn, but alas it has not completely arrived there as yet, but hope springs eternal.

John Howard GibsonSeptember 30th, 2011 at 11:48 pm

HBJ : Hands like this show how great players look to find a way to beat near lay down contracts. East Knows declarer can’t gain entry to dummy in hearts to enjoy the 5th diamond, and is therefore banking on declarer having only 8 tricks to run in the minors (with partner having that killer stop in diamonds ).

” Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and the rest will come to you ” is an old adage which certainly rings true in this instance.

Yours HBJ

Bobby WolffOctober 1st, 2011 at 11:25 am


Your great quote, should continue, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and the rest will come to you…..unless Caesar has taken up match point duplicate and only then will he ruthlessly leave with every match point possible”. Shades of Barry Crane and Britain’s own, Martin Hoffman.