Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

View yourselves
In the deceiving mirror of self-love.

Philip Massinger

West North
East-West ♠ A K 5 4
 Q 8 7 6
 Q J 2
♣ 10 2
West East
♠ Q 9 8 3
 J 4 3 2
 10 3
♣ 9 6 5
♠ J 7 6 2
 9 7 4
♣ A J 8 7 3
♠ 10
 A K 10 5
 A K 8 6 5
♣ K Q 4
South West North East
Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
4 NT Pass 5 Pass
6 All pass    


Themistocles Papadopoulos, the favorite opponent of Victor Mollo's immortal Hideous Hog, was reputed to be the only man capable of false-carding with a singleton. Alas for a number of declarers in the Cap Gemini, there were several opponents who seemed equally capable of the feat!

Seven out of eight pairs reached six hearts here. The slam is laydown if trumps split; but when declarer laid down a top heart from the South hand, the nine appeared. Now the question is whether this card is a singleton or the standard “expert” false-card from J-9-x-x.

Larry Cohen at one table and Lisa Berkowitz at a second were the only declarers prepared to pay off to the possibility of a brilliancy by leading a second top trump from the South hand, and as a result they picked up a handsome swing for their sides. The rest of the field played for their opponents to be superstars by leading a small heart to the queen, and went down.

As the Hideous Hog said on another occasion, “Maybe if you didn’t try to be so clever, you wouldn’t end up looking so stupid.”

Notice that when the hand was declared by South, if declarer had crossed to dummy with a spade at trick three and led a heart up to the ace, he would have been much more likely to believe the heart nine to be a singleton. Apart from anything else, the deceptive play from J-9-x-x would not be a success if West had the bare heart 10!

It may look tempting to bid two no-trump here, but remember your partner has shown 6-9 high-card points, with four diamonds or more. If you rebid two no-trump, you are inviting game, not improving the partscore. In other words you suggest better than a strong no-trump. Pass and take your medicine.


♠ A K 5 4
 Q 8 7 6
 Q J 2
♣ 10 2
South West North East
1 1♠ 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 WarheitJanuary 10th, 2012 at 9:48 am

The best contract is 6NT, cold if hearts behave or if east has the ace of clubs (or both if diamonds are 5-0). Do you have a bidding sequence that would reach this contract, and do you think it reasonably possible for a good pair to get to 6NT?

Bobby WolffJanuary 10th, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Hi David,

While your question is right to the point, the answer is difficult, since I want to be honest and not play results.

First of all, without a club lead or even with one, 6NT is not necessarily laydown if East makes an imaginative play in 3rd chair, covering the 10 with the Jack, but playing the 7 if not. However without a club lead, the declarer will have to lead 2 rounds of hearts, missguessing them as he goes, (or possibly finding J9xx in the wrong hand), before leading a 2nd club toward his remaining club honor.

All the above is a red herring, because what I mean to say is that a bidding system showing only the specific cards actually held is not possible, and because of that my answer is No!, I do not think it possible.