Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.

Francis Bacon

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


Sometimes a defense may seem so obvious that it might almost be insulting to point it out. But when an opponent misses it at the table, maybe others will learn from his mistake (plus enjoy a touch of schadenfreude).

Check out this deal from the first qualifying session of the Norman Kay Platinum Pairs in last year’s spring nationals at Louisville, the source of all this week’s deals.

East-West had missed out on five spades when East made the simple raise to four spades — quite reasonable, but had he tried four diamonds, his partner would surely have got it right. In auctions of this sort, when you have hearts and the opponents have spades, describing your hand to help partner judge the five-level should be mandatory. In this case, East could not foresee the denouement when he bid four spades, but he might nonetheless have taken the risk of helping the opponents in the defense to insure his side competed appropriately.

That said, at least it behooved the defense to beat five hearts and lessen the damage. West led the diamond king against five hearts and continued the suit. Now the contract made, when a spade loser vanished on the clubs!

I blame both defenders, but especially East. West might have worked out that a spade switch at trick two could be necessary, but East surely should have overtaken the diamond king to cash the spade king. West will signal count and East will take the second spade trick before the rats get at it.

Although it is possible to construct specific hands where slam will make for your partnership, it is asking too much to expect him to cover all those losers, and if you make a slam try you may get into the no-man's land of the five-level. While you might make a splinter bid of four clubs if your singleton club honor were in the diamond suit, here a simple raise to game should be enough.


♠ A K Q J 9 6
 Q 8
 A 9 7 3
♣ Q
South West North East
1♠ Pass 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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Howard Bigot-JohnsonApril 3rd, 2012 at 3:56 pm

HBJ : Yes my motto is ” Make life easy for partner by taking control and not leaving him to guess “.

bobby wolffApril 3rd, 2012 at 6:02 pm


Your motto is every intelligent bridge player’s desire, but the execution is sometimes faulty.

All bridge partners should, at their earliest opportunity, discuss how to simplify their counting procedures since probably more errors, causing beatable contracts to make, are the result of that subject alone.

Thanks for writing.