Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, December 31st, 2011

And now, gentlemen,
A word I give to remain in your memories and minds,
As base, and finale too, for all metaphysics.

Walt Whitman

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

At the Cap Gemini tournament in 1998, the eventual winners, Zia Mahmood and Tony Forrester, had taken a big early lead and were still just in front when this board arrived at the table.

The pair in second place also reached three no-trump, and Tor Helness as East led the heart jack in response to his partner’s opening bid. Declarer won with the king and misguessed the clubs. Back came the heart nine, ducked all around, and that was followed by a diamond to the king. Now the defense was ahead in the race to establish a long suit, and the contract had to go one down

At the other key table, West led the diamond 10 to the king, and East unblocked the queen. Forrester as declarer naturally misguessed the clubs, cashing the ace and playing a club to the jack. He ducked the diamond continuation, throwing a heart from dummy, and that left East on play. That player made the natural-looking play of the spade queen (the winning defense is to switch to a heart), and Forrester put up the king.

He then cashed the diamond ace, discarding another heart, and took his winning clubs. East had to keep three hearts, so was forced down to two spades. Forrester was able to lead a spade, win the heart return with the ace, and exit with a further spade. He took the penultimate trick with the heart king and had an established spade for his ninth trick.

Your hand is getting better with every call in the auction. You can now assume partner is relatively short in spades, and since your side might be able to make slam easily, it would be lazy to bid four hearts now. Cuebid four clubs and hope your partner can cooperate.


♠ 9 8 3
 A 8 7 6 3
♣ A 9 8 6
South West North East
1♣ Pass
1 2♠ 3 3♠

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


AndrewJanuary 17th, 2012 at 9:40 pm

The column is sort of incoherent. I was hoping that by the time it appeared on the web you would have cleaned up the inconsistencies. It doesn’t sound as if you think Mahmood is a better player, but just had better luck.

Bobby WolffJanuary 18th, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Hi Andrew,

Yes, this column hand is totally skewed. It was meant to chronicle a real hand played by some of the top players in the world, but in the retelling it was so confusing it became unintelligible.

All I can do is apologize and plan to not let such a thing happen again.

In answer to your last comment, I have always thought Zia was, and still is, one of the very best players in the world and although he was not the declarer on this hand, I find it strange that you derived what your conclusion suggests.

However, the fault is mine and although that hand was written many months ago, I cannot find an excuse for the confused effect it undoubtedly caused.