Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, December 17th, 2011

Speak softly — the sacred cows may hear.
Speak easy — the sacred cows must be fed.

Carl Sandburg

East North
Neither ♠ A 10 6
 K 10 8 2
 A K 8
♣ A 9 5
West East
♠ 5 4 2
 A Q J 3
♣ 10 8 7 6 4
♠ J 9 8 7 3
 9 6
 J 10 9 6
♣ K 2
♠ K Q
 7 5 4
 Q 7 5 3 2
♣ Q J 3
South West North East
Pass Pass 1♣ Pass
1 NT Pass 3 NT All pass


Patrick Jourdain has been secretary or president of the International Bridge Press Association for 30 years. He is also a player: his team won the Crockford's Plate in England earlier this year, and he presented the following deal from the event as an example of clear thinking.

Against three no-trump the lead of the club six went to East’s king. When the club two came back, South had a choice of hands in which to win it. Before you read on, you might care to consider how you would advance.

At the table declarer took dummy’s ace, preserving the queen as a later entry to hand. He then cashed his top spades in hand and dummy’s two top diamonds. On the second of these, West pitched a heart rather than a club. Declarer now decided to cash the spade ace, cross to hand with the diamond king, and exit with the fourth round of diamonds to East to force a heart play. Alas, with spades 5-3, East had two spades to cash and the heart ace was the setting trick.

If you judge that clubs are likely to be 5-2, you can avoid having to rely on the heart suit. You need to win the second club in hand and play four rounds of diamonds. With no club to return, East can do no better than exit with a spade. Having taken your spade and diamond winners in hand, the two black aces in dummy will give you nine tricks.

Your partner's sequence does NOT promise extras — he could have been planning to rebid one spade over a red suit with a minimum hand and a little shape. So you certainly need do no more than bid three clubs now and let partner decide where to go next.


♠ K Q
 7 5 4
 Q 7 5 3 2
♣ Q J 3
South West North East
1♣ 1
2 Pass 2♠ Pass

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


David WarheitDecember 31st, 2011 at 9:50 am

Nothing the matter with the original declarer’s line of play up until he cashed the spade ace. Instead of that, he should simply have played two more rounds of diamonds. Since east now has no more clubs or diamonds, he must give dummy a trick while declarer retains the club queen as entry to cash the fifth diamond. Surely the fact that east played the king and then the deuce of clubs means that he only had 2 clubs, plus we are not told what west played to trick 2; if it were the club 4, that would make the 5-2 split about as sure as it could be.

Bobby WolffJanuary 1st, 2012 at 7:11 am

Hi David,

Against normal opponents you are surely right, but there are some very good partnerships (and from around the world) who lead 3rd from 4 and East might be cooperating with him by leading the deuce back in order to mislead the declarer.

That said, I agree 100% with your analysis.

albert ohanaJanuary 3rd, 2012 at 9:38 am

Hi M. Wolff
Please receive my best wishes fot the new year !
I have moved and have now a new e-mail address. I also took my retirement from directoring in championships
Please could you tell me what were the 7 sins determined by the Aces training ?
Many thanks in advance, and congratulations for your always excellent commentaries
Albert Ohana

Bobby WolffJanuary 4th, 2012 at 4:12 am

Hi Albert,

And a return Happy New Year to you and yours, which I hope and trust will last the whole year.

The seven deadly sins (if my memory allows):

1. No win declarer play
2. No win defensive play
3. Bidding without values
4. Mechanical errors
5. Unilateral actions
6. System violations

For the time being I cannot remember the 7th sin, but I’ll send the above and try and follow up later. Sorry, but good luck and thanks for writing.