Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, March 26th, 2012

Alas, regardless of their doom,
The little victims play!
No sense have they of ills to come,
Nor care beyond today.

Thomas Gray

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


Today's deal presents a problem for South at teams. When your partner doubles three clubs, should you settle for the safe plus by passing, or should you go for the big prize by trying three no-trump?

In an Australian event, Marlene Watts and Jamie Ebery were one of the few pairs to go plus (almost) legitimately here. Against three no-trump, West started off well enough by leading a heart; East won and shifted to clubs to the jack and queen. Back came a low heart now, East winning again and continuing clubs — fatally. He should have inferred from his partner’s play of a low heart at trick three that West had four hearts, and have continued the suit.

Ebery put up the king, losing to the ace, and pitched a spade from dummy. Then he won his heart ace and carefully cashed the spade king and the diamond king. He then led a diamond to the ace, discovering the 5-1 break and getting a perfect count of the hand.

Now he ran the clubs, coming down to the spade ace and two small diamonds in dummy, with two small spades and the diamond queen in hand. East, who had to discard from his doubleton spade queen and the diamond J-10, elected to pitch a spade.

Since East was known to have two diamonds left, declarer crossed to the spade ace and came back to the diamond queen to score his long spade at trick 13 — a perfect crisscross squeeze.

You have no reason to try to be a hero in positions like this. A heart lead is unlikely to cost, and your own suits have already been bid by other players, so you might as well opt for the suit that your partner has bid. He can hardly complain if that works out badly.


♠ A Q 6 3
 J 7 3
♣ J 7 5 3 2
South West North East
1 1 1♠
Pass 2♣ Pass 2 NT
All 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 9th, 2012 at 9:22 am

HBJ : Masterly stuff. Pitching dummy’s jack of spades to transfer the spade menace card to hand was exquiste. Now if I could envisage that degree of technique I would be writing quality blogs like this , instead of the mad cap rubbish I’m doing at the moment. Yours lost in admiration . HBJ

bobby wolffApril 9th, 2012 at 2:13 pm


Thanks for your exquisitely kind words.

Please understand that in order to do what you
suggest that I accomplish, all one needs to do is to devote a lifetime to what some might call a frivolous subject and then get a team together to produce it.

The adventures you write about, instead of being “mad cap rubbish”, are real life spoofs of when “stuck up snobs” meet active realistic fun-loving people who, not only know how to enjoy life, but also how to interest others by reminding all of us about the folly involved with the human condition.

To each his own, but when I think of you the words which come to mind are, excellent writing, off-the-charts sense of humor, correct interpretation of other people’s motives, entertainment, and above all, being a great friend. Never, NEVER change!

jim2April 10th, 2012 at 2:27 am

Almost lost in the play was Ebry’s falsecard of the JC.

Maybe it was “routine” to experts, but not to us lesser mortals. It left East convinced that West had begun with seven clubs to the AQ10.

Perhaps West deserved it, actually, for having opened three clubs with only six and with a 4-card major, as well.

bobby wolffApril 10th, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Hi Jim2,

You make a good point about normal high-level technique, having to do with attempting to hide one’s specific holding from the defense.

My other point is more important in that, one must never forget the purpose of deciding to preempt. Since the idea is to take away bidding room from the stronger holding opponents, waiting for the perfect “book” example in order to decide to preempt, sometimes is a long frustrating exercise, so hedge a little (or a lot) in order to be unpredictable and more effective as a tough opponent.