Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

As one who by some savage stream
A lonely gem surveys,
Astonished, doubly marks it beam
With art’s most polished blaze.

Robert Burns

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

*Weak in one major


This week's deals all come from the European Championships last year. Since these were held in Poznan, Poland, there was a very strong Polish representation.

Lukasz Brede and Wojciech Strzemecki for Team Connector produced an elegant result during the qualifying rounds of the Teams.

Strzemecki, West, led the heart jack against three no-trump. Brede overtook in the hopes that West would play him for a six-card suit for his pre-empt and would win the trick. Cautiously West played low, knowing that East might have cheated on his suit length. Now Brede, seeing his own lack of entries, thoughtfully shifted to a spade. Declarer won in hand and advanced the club jack, ducked, then the club king, covered by West’s ace for a second spade back, taking out declarer’s entry to dummy.

West won the third club and now exited with his last heart, which reduced declarer to just his five diamonds and a losing heart. He could do no better than lead a diamond to dummy, hoping the queen was with West. Brede took this trick and cashed out the hearts for three down – and a 5 IMP gain, since three no-trump went one down in the other room.

Just for the record, declarer should have played a diamond to dummy’s jack after the club jack held the trick. Had he done so, he would have collected four diamonds, three spades and one trick in each of the other suits, to make his game.

The jump to four of a major in response to one of that suit should be played as weak, but the precise range for the call should not be tightly defined. This is a typical example of a maximum for the call. With so much of the hand in hearts, it is easy to see that it offers next to no defense to any contract played by the opponents. So it is ideal for this action.


♠ 4 3 2
 K Q 9 6 3
 Q 7 2
♣ 7 4
South West North East
1 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


David WarheitJuly 18th, 2012 at 9:47 am

In your 3d paragraph you mention Brede hoping West would win the first heart trick and West ducking the heart lead. In both cases you meant to say “South” or “declarer”, instead of “West”.

Another point: West can win the first club lead and continue spades, but now South wins in dummy and, temprarily abandoning the 3d spade, leads a club to his king. West must duck, and now South leads a low diamond to the jack & East’s queen. East returns a diamond, but South wins and runs all the diamonds and the ace of hearts then leads his last club which West must win and give dummy the last trick in spades, making 3NT. In short, since West must duck one of the first 2 club tricks, South makes his contract in pretty much the same form whether West wins the first or second club.

Iain ClimieJuly 18th, 2012 at 10:50 am

Hi Mr. Wolff,

It strikes me tthat declarer missed a possible trick in the club suit. If he leads the CK it is harder for west with CAQx to hold off as declarer might have CKx. Yet imagine that west has CAxx.

He will hold off the CK but, on the lead of the Jack, may be tempted to take that playing declarer for CKQJ especially if East’s small card with the Queen looks like an echo. The intention would be to block the club suit, and nobody could say west wasn’t thinking, but east will be less than pleased. I suspect there are often chances missed for such plays in NT, relying on the defenders ducking an Ace on the first honour led.



jim2July 18th, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Starting the clubs by advancing the jack instead of the king seems to give up on the chance that the QC is singleton.

bobby wolffJuly 18th, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Hi David,

Yes, you are again correct in your finding careless sloth in our writing. That occurs too often even though three people (six eyes) write and proofread each hand before it goes to the publisher. I appreciate your reminding us of the necessity for improving our results.

Also, your analysis, as usual adds to the understanding of options in the play and defense, again a positive, especially to serious students of our wonderful game.

From a sense of humor standpoint, bridge bidding, bridge declaring and (even harder), partnership defense most times require even more perfection than does bridge writing. The result too often resembles the same type of errors you point out on our part and even sometimes, temprarily (see above in your comment) in even yours.

However, and most important in fairness, you do not get paid for yours.

bobby wolffJuly 18th, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Hi Iain,

You have a gifted penchant for “feeling” and then chronicling ways to influence the defense to help the declarer. As Terence Reese once wrote (I believe as the caption to one of his many superlative books): “There appears to be a demand nowadays to make wrong appear right” (or at least close to that).

While he may have found a way to prove his point in a non-suggested way, your examples are all legal, clever, and to be admired. Keep them coming, record them and after a few years you will have enough to dedicate a worthwhile book to only them.

However, my advice, in the meantime, is not to give up your day job.

bobby wolffJuly 18th, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Hi Jim2,

Ah, YES! Although bringing up the rear in order of comments, certainly worth its weight to consider.

Your advice often is similar to Jiminy Cricket’s role in Pinocchio while perched on his shoulder, often what I considered a perfect setting for a bridge mentor.

Thank you.