Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, January 7th, 2012

A clever person turns great problems into little ones and little ones into none at all.

Chinese proverb

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


I freely admit that when given today's deal as a problem, I started out well but missed one of the subtleties of the play. So see if you can "Stump the Swami" and do better than me!

Having been given the warning in four spades that trumps will not be splitting (what else could West’s double signify?). you win the diamond ace at trick one and ruff a diamond to hand. What next? Best is to exploit the possibility of finding the club king onside — but you do not want to lead the club ace and a second club, or East might win (as here)and play a third club. So you lead a low club to the queen and king. Back comes a heart, and you win in hand and lead a trump to the board, intending to insert the seven. West must contribute the eight, and you win the ace, finding the bad news, then take the remaining top hearts, in case you need to ruff the fourth heart in dummy, finding the suit to be 3-3.

Now you cash the club ace and can be sure West started with a 5-3-3-2 pattern. You lead out the fourth heart to force West to ruff high and return a diamond, which lets you ruff in hand and lead a spade toward the seven. Again, West must win the trick with a high trump, but now he will have to lead away from his Q-5 of spades in the two-card ending.

You have a choice of simple actions: a rebid of two clubs and a response of one no-trump. Although your six-card suit is weak, it looks better to rebid clubs because your heart spots are not quite good enough to announce you are comfortable in no-trump.


♠ A 7
 Q 9 8
 A 5
♣ Q 9 7 6 5 2
South West North East
1♣ 1 1♠ 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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


clarksburgJanuary 21st, 2012 at 11:10 pm

“A clever person turns great problems into little ones and little ones into none at all.”

Chinese proverb
Wow! How good is that? Is it by any chance the traceable ancient root of today’s “don’t sweat the small stuff” and “don’t worry, be happy”.
Thanks Mr. Wolff.

Bobby WolffJanuary 22nd, 2012 at 5:59 am

Hi Clarksburg,

Yes, as you point out, that quote may have then be jived up to come at us just the way you suggest.

When I was school age and very immature I was introduced to William Shakespeare as “someone among the best” and if anything, he developed in my mind, as even better than that.

How about this quote from Julius Caesar, “Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come”. That passage immediately followed his famous “Cowards die many times before their death, the valiant only tastes of death but once”

As I have grown so much older, I only wish I would have taken that great man’s quotes more seriously when first I heard them.