Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been;
I am also called No-more, Too-late, Farewell.

Christina Rossetti

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



The three bears came back from the duplicate club, and as they came through the door, Goldilocks could see that a free and frank exchange of views had been taking place. Tactfully, she waited until Papa Bear had a large glass of mead in front of him before asking how the game had gone.

In response he produced the following 52-card diagram. Against four hearts the defense led the spade jack, then 10, ruffed. Papa Bear drew trump, then took the diamond finesse and complained about his bad luck — he would have made if trumps had been 3-3 or he could have played the diamond suit for three tricks without loss.

When Goldilocks consoled him for his bad luck, Mama chimed in that she thought she had been even unluckier. She ruffed the second spade and immediately played the diamond ace and a diamond to the jack. Meanly, West won and played a third diamond, ruffed by East. There was still a club to lose.

At this point Baby Bear, who had been hopping up and down trying to get a word in edgewise, told Goldilocks how he had played the hand. He had pitched a club on the second spade, then ruffed the third spade, and had crossed to the heart ace to lead a diamond to the jack at once. Now he was safe, since he could ruff the fourth spade in dummy and cross to his club ace to draw trump.

Tempting as it might be to use Blackwood, you are a long way short of a decent slam if partner has a minimum hand. A simple raise to four diamonds is irreproachable; you should also be able to bid four clubs as a cue-bid for diamonds. (If you had hearts and clubs you would just bid three no-trump now.) Either way, if partner does not cooperate, you can settle for five diamonds.


♠ 3
 K Q J 7 5
 K J 5 3
♣ A 6 3
South West North East
1♠ Pass
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


Patrick CheuDecember 22nd, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Hi Bobby, if declarer chooses to ruff the second spade, the 4-1 trump break is a worry, is there a case for cashing diamonds ace n king, and exit with a diamond to avoid the ruff by east, the key being not to play trumps too soon. If west has singleton Q diamonds n east 10982, finessing Jd may not be a success. Best regards-Patrick.

Yasser HaiderDecember 22nd, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Hi Bobby, first time post here. Does this work. Discard 2 diamonds from hand on 2nd and 3rd spade. Win the, say club switch with A. Draw trumps, K diamonds then AD then D ruff establishing dummys 4th diamond for the 10th trick.

bobbywolffDecember 22nd, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Hi Patrick,

Since the diamond break which worries you, singleton Q with West, only occurs about 20% of 33% or about 7% of the time, I would think that baby bear’s choice is superior, since it would eliminate problems with certain 4-1 breaks in diamonds.

However, I approve of your industry in pursuing the best line. BTW, the 4-1 trump break you speak about was, of course, instead 4-2, but I suspect you either misspoke or miswrote.

bobbywolffDecember 22nd, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Hi Yasser,

First, welcome to our bridge fraternity.

Your play would work against 3-2 diamond breaks or singleton queens of diamonds, but not against all other 4-1 diamond breaks, not counting club diamond squeeze possibilities.

Our group appreciates your interest and looks forward to your next contribution.

Patrick CheuDecember 22nd, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Hi Bobby, thanks for correcting my error as regards the 4-2 trump break and the baby bear’s line is definitely superior and instructive-Patrick.