Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Ignorance of the law excuses no man….

John Selden

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


In today's deal, from the World Olympiad four years ago in Beijing, West has a splendid hand, but until he finds a fit, he can hardly drive his hand to the four-level,

Few pairs judged the East-West cards that well; let’s focus on the match between Norway and China.

In one room Glenn Groetheim as West played four clubs doubled after he had overcalled two no-trump to show the minors, then had doubled three spades. The defenders cashed their hearts and played a third heart, ruffed with the queen and overruffed. That had the effect of promoting a trump trick for the defenders, to go with their diamond winner, for down one.

It was good, but not good enough. In the other room the Chinese West overcalled two no-trump and also balanced with a double of three spades, which East gambled to pass for want of anything better to do. After three rounds of clubs, ruffed and overruffed, declarer played the side-suits, ruffing diamonds high and hearts low, and made nine tricks.

In England v. Romania both East-West pairs defended to three spades (one contract doubled, one not). Both Wests led three rounds of clubs and both Easts ruffed in and were overruffed. In each case declarer handled the trump spots sensibly to bring home nine tricks. None of these three Easts noticed they had a guaranteed way to set the hand. All they had to do was discard a diamond on the third club, instead of ruffing in, to ensure they could collect their ruff and beat three spades.

Your partner is a passed hand. Do you really think he has a long club suit with which he can back in at the four-level after not being able to open? Of course not! He has a real fit for spades, and a hand inviting you to lead clubs against the opponents' heart contract. Bid four spades now and await developments.


♠ K Q 8 5 2
 J 7
 K Q 9 6
♣ Q 2
South West North East
Pass 1
1♠ 3 4♣ 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 WarheitSeptember 19th, 2012 at 10:05 am

You say that against Glenn Groetheim when south ruffs the 3d heart with the queen of clubs that that action “promot(ed)’ a trump trick for defenders”. Actually, that ruff destroyed the defenders’ trump trick, since west would find it very easy to finesse the club 8 on first leading trumps. If south discards on the 3d heart, there is nothing declarer can do to avoid losing a trump trick, and down he goes in 4C.

jim2September 19th, 2012 at 11:32 am

I thought the same. That is, South ruffing with the Q denies the 10, though I suppose West might fear South has committed a brilliancy against him holding Q10 doubleton.

In fact, there is precise symmetry in the defense on this deal. That is, ruffing the third round after pard has begun with AK lets declarer make the contract, while discarding guarantees the set. When N-S play in spades, the led suit is clubs. When E-W play it in clubs, the led suit is hearts.

bobby wolffSeptember 19th, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Hi David & Jim2,

Actually you two should be a song writing team, like Rogers and Hammerstein, where David supplies the lyrics and Jim2 the melody.

High level bridge, particularly the play, often reminds me of music, and now between the two of you, that thought comes to life.

Also, instead of featuring hands which provide tricks with trumps, this chapter should be entitled, “Tricks By Not Trumping”. At least to me, your comments still represent the non-trumping coming alive with the “Sound of Music”.

However, there is a sour note which North caused by, after cashing the AK of hearts, then not switching to a not so obvious diamond. By not so obvious, I am only suggesting that to now switch to declarer’s known 2nd suit is usually counter-intuitive and therefore illogical. But to do so would verify my all time favorite song “I must have done something good”.