Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

But Jack, no panic showing,
Just watched his beanstalk growing,
And twined with tender fingers
the tendrils up the pole.

Guy Carryl

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


On "Dad's Army," an old British television show, there was a character who was given to exclaiming "Don't panic!" A bad trump break can often inspire such sentiments, but stay focused and you can often limit the damage, or even emerge triumphant.

Today’s deal was just such an example. In six spades South appeared to have a decent chance to make 12 tricks in some comfort if spades behaved. He won the club lead and advanced the spade 10, covered by the king and ace, with West pitching a club.

The 5-0 break posed considerable problems. As East clearly had a singleton club, declarer needed East to hold three or four hearts and for at least one diamond ruff to stand up.

So he cashed the heart ace, king and queen, since East’s length in that suit would dictate the rest of the plan. To his surprise, West showed out on the third round, so South ruffed a heart in hand, played the diamond ace and king, then ruffed a diamond low.

In the four-card ending with the lead in dummy, North had the spade five and three losing clubs, South had the Q-J-6 of spades and a diamond, while East had his four low spades.

South led a club from dummy, overruffed East’s seven with his queen, then ruffed a diamond with dummy’s spade five, forcing East to overruff with the eight. In the two-card ending, East had to lead from his 9-4 of spades into declarer’s tenace — contract made!

Your partner has shown a powerhouse, but at this moment it is not clear if he has secondary hearts to go with his diamonds. However, you don't have to guess. Simply bid three hearts and your partner will raise with four, give delayed spade support with three, or take some other descriptive action.


♠ K 9 8 7 4
 J 9 6 2
 J 9 7
♣ 3
South West North East
1♣ Dbl. 2♣
2♠ Pass 3 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


John Howard GibsonOctober 6th, 2012 at 12:07 pm

HBJ : There are two more well used expressions which one immediately associates with Dad’s Army…..and both are equally appropriate in the world of bridge , especially when partner puts into a hopeless contract
….” YOU STUPID BOY ” ( Captain Mannering’s constant frustration with Pike )
….” WE’RE DOOMED ” ( Fraser )

bobby wolffOctober 6th, 2012 at 1:42 pm


Thanks for the great expressions from “Dad’s Army”.

Today’s hand was not a real hand, but an example of “tricks with trumps”. Sometimes a reminder of how a terrible break, especially in trumps, can be overcome with careful maneuvering and deft tempo can inspire genius. Like the military warning of “loose lips sink ships”, one wrong out-of-tempo move destroys good contract.