Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter.

John Keats

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


At the Dyspeptics Club, West's performance at the bridge table swings alarmingly between the shockingly inept,and the startlingly accurate, and East never knows what to expect. North consoles him from time to time by remarking comfortingly that at least he gets something other than second-rate from HIS partner whereas he, North, knows exactly what to expect, but that does not make it any less painful.

In today’s deal South’s spade game was threatened by a top heart lead. South could not afford to duck, so he took dummy’s ace and led a low diamond to his queen. To encourage West to take his ace, he nudged the trick toward him.

But West ducked, perhaps aware that he should resist the temptation to do what South wanted him to. West won the next diamond, cashed the heart queen, then continued with the jack. South ruffed high, but East discarded his last diamond and declarer was left with two club losers whatever he did next.

South asked his partner if it would have been better to ruff the third heart low, to which North responded by saying “Yes and no.” What did that Delphic utterance mean?

If South ruffs the third heart low, then to defeat the hand, East must pitch his last diamond and not overruff. But declarer can insure the contract against normal trump breaks by pitching a club from dummy, and not ruffing the third heart. Then he can draw trump ending in dummy and run the diamonds to pitch his clubs.

On this auction it is sensible to bid three no-trump immediately and not worry about the defenders' ability to run the spade suit. Since your partner did not double two spades and your RHO did not raise spades, the defenders are unlikely to be able to cash out the suit.


♠ Q 7 6
 A 9
 K J 10 9 6
♣ 9 8 4
South West North East
2♠ 3♣ 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


Howard Bigot-JohnsonFebruary 2nd, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Hbj : Yes, the obvious play is to duck the third heart to guarantee an entry in dummy for those lovely diamonds.
Initially there appears to be 11 tricks (4D,5s and two red Aces ), but a trick has to be sacrificed to ensure that precious entry to make the required 10.
Greed can often push aside common sense, and the number of times I’ve vigorously pursued an overtrick only to fail to make the contract is far too embarrassing to tell.

Bobby WolffFebruary 2nd, 2012 at 11:23 pm


Sometimes it is not so much greed as it is impatience. Most hands, probably well over half, will survive lack of thought by declarer, but every now and then, especially in bridge columns, creativity is necessary to bring home the bacon.

Experience is the answer. To capture the prize, one needs to know the personality of the beast, and the beast known as bridge, is indeed sometimes slippery.

Also, someone once said that the beginning of wisdom is to understand how little we know so with your positive, but wary predilections, you’ll soon have it solved.