Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, February 16th, 2012

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first.

Blaise Pascal

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


In today's deal from the NEC event held in Yokohama last February, Kyoko Shimamura took the slow route to four spades. West led a club to the ace and East then shifted to a low diamond. West won her king and returned a thoughtful low heart, trying to remove dummy's entry and needing her partner to have no more than the heart nine to have a chance to set the game. No luck — but a nice play.

In fact, at double-dummy, East needed to cash the diamond ace at trick two, then shift to a heart, with West covering declarer’s card to remove dummy’s entry.

At another table, Heather Dhondy received the equally testing defense of two rounds of diamonds. She ruffed, drew trumps, then played the club jack. East, Yukiko Umezu, won and exited in diamonds. Dhondy ruffed and led a heart up, but Etsuko Naito riposted by winning the heart ace to leave the hearts blocked, then played a fourth diamond. Declarer ruffed with her last trump, but (depending on whether she had unblocked the heart king or not) had to concede a club or a heart at the end.

Vlad Isporski for the Bulgarian All Stars also received the defense of two rounds of diamonds. He pitched his club instead of ruffing, and now when West won and made the mistake of leading a club instead of a trump, Isporski could ruff away the club ace, draw trumps, and lead a heart toward the king, leaving the defense helpless.

This hand raises the issue of what your partner should expect from a two-level overcall. Any reader who has seen me criticize overcalls on five-card suits may be surprised when I say that an overcall here is perfectly OK — though I draw the line at a jump overcall. Any decent six-card suit tends to be acceptable, though I'd probably pass at unfavorable vulnerability.


♠ 4 3
 K 5
 Q 10 3
♣ K Q 6 5 4 3
South West North East
Pass 1

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


jim2March 1st, 2012 at 1:31 pm

I appreciate seeing how a challenging hand was approached at multiple tables!

I would note that, at Isporski’s table, the defense would still have had a couple more opportunities to err if West had accurately returned a trump due, in part, to the presumably-established QD.

bobby wolffMarch 1st, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Hi Jim2,

Thanks for your comment.

Reporting on an actual hand seems to create more interest than on a contrived one, since, such as on this one, there are a number of different ways to construct the defense and from a reader’s view, often it becomes challenging to try and guess what was on either the defender’s or the declarer’s mind, when he chose what he did.

With contrived hands, which always are plentiful in most bridge literature, there usually is a method in the author’s madness, quite often as a learning tool, but by emphasizing that goal, sometimes it adversely effects realism, resulting in the reader not taking into account the human element of putting oneself in the other person’s position and asking why.

The complete world class player almost will never fail to ask that very revealing question whether or not he is the declarer or the defender.