Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 6th, 2012

I have loved your kiddies playing run-sheep-run
And cutting their initials on the ball-ground fence.
They knew every time I fooled them who was fooled and how.

Carl Sandburg

East North
Neither ♠ A Q 9 7 4
 A K 9 6
 J 5 4
♣ 6
West East
♠ 6
 Q 10 7 3 2
 K 8 6
♣ Q 9 8 5
♠ 10 8 2
 8 4
♣ A K J 10 4 3 2
♠ K J 5 3
 J 5
 A Q 9 7 3 2
♣ 7
South West North East
3 NT*
Pass 5♣ Dbl. Pass
5 All pass    

*Minor-suit pre-empt


These days a lot of the swings in high-level bridge come about when you make things difficult for your opponents.

In today’s deal, for example, from the European championships, at many tables East contented himself with a three-club opening, but that did not cause any problems. Either West raised to four clubs and North made a value-showing double which South removed to four spades, or West passed and North bid three spades, which also led to the normal spade game. Where West bid five clubs, some North-Souths settled for collecting 300 and a small loss.

But here West led his singleton spade against five diamonds. Declarer could see that if West had started with three diamonds, then when he got in with the diamond king, he would be able to put his partner in with a club to get a spade ruff, thus defeating the game.

Can you spot his extra chance? Declarer won the spade ace, played a diamond to his ace, and now played the heart ace and king. He continued with the heart nine, discarding his club from hand. West had won an unexpected trick, but he could no longer put his partner on lead to deliver the ruff.

When the teams compared scores at the end of the match, the Finnish pair was pleased to discover that their declarer at the other table had found exactly the same line of play in the same contract. No swing!

Despite your length in the opponents' suit, you have a good hand offensively, and your extra diamond length means your hand is not really a minimum in playing strength. You should thus simply compete to two diamonds, rather than passing (which would suggest a balanced hand).


♠ K J 5 3
 J 5
 A Q 9 7 3 2
♣ 7
South West North East
1 Pass 1 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


Howard Bigot-JohnsonApril 20th, 2012 at 11:03 am

HBJ : Using the scissors coup to severe communications between between the defenders guarantees the contract but what if you were in 6D on the same lead.
The only line of play as the cards lie is to run the jacks of hearts, covered by queen taken with dummy’s king. A diamond to THE ACE removing East’s singleton trump. Finesse West’s 10 of hearts with dimmy’s A9 to pitch away the losing club ( making 5D,5S 2H).
If you were swinging for tops would you adopt this line of play if the contract was 5D ?

bobbywolffApril 20th, 2012 at 12:17 pm


In answer to your query, you dismiss the fact that I, like other active administrative members of your corrupt and political bridge club, have already seen this hand, so I, too would play precisely how you suggest. However, since the contract is to be 6 diamonds, not 5, it is likely, since West expects his king of diamonds to live, to then fall back on a tried and true opening lead of his partner’s suit, since a 3rd defensive trick is not needed.

No, I would not fall back on this line of play in 5 diamonds, since the percentages do not suggest for the declarer to take such risks, just to garner an overtrick, particularly so since most of the room will be declaring spades not diamonds.

It has been said that a peek (at the opponent’s hands) is worth the value of 2 finesses, and this hand proves that this old adage is true as it can be, worth exactly that, and in hearts.

In case your bridge club banishes you for life, I think my club in Las Vegas will accept you, if only for your unquestioned entertainment talent, not to mention your energy and writing ability.

Howard Bigot-JohnsonApril 20th, 2012 at 1:00 pm

HBJ : Yes if pairs are in spades then 450 is the score to beat and 5D plus two dooesn’t hack it. But 6D does if it makes, although it does seem obvious that in 6 the defence will take the club trick straightaway.
However as for my club the issue isn’t about political corruption as such but it is all about certain individuals riddled with negative preconceptions, prejudgements, prejudices and bias……all of which can easily lead to the abuse of executive power. I don’t think I’m up for banishment yet but the club committee certainly don’t approve of my blog or any of views or observations I make…..many of which are buried beneath my amatuerish attempts at satire , irony and sarcasm. Mind you it is very reassuring to know that a club in Las Vegas is more than happy to accept me for who I am.
The saga of the flying bridgemate continues on with a very expensive court case looming up……..madness , stupidity , stubbornness and pig-headeness on a scale I have never seen before. There will be no winners …except the lawyers of course….just dozens of damaged individuals on both sides of this dispute left to reflect on why did they do it ?. When I started out with this overview of that BRIDGE WORLD WAS BIZARRE… was a figment of my imagination. However, now I’m utterly convinced it’s true !