Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, December 21st, 2012

A wise skepticism is the first attribute of a good critic.

James Lowell

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


Four spades might have been best today here, but when West led the club jack against three no-trump, it left South in the awkward position of having no sure re-entry to hand. He could go after spades, but if he did, he might find himself at the mercy of the heart position unless the defenders continued playing on clubs (and even then there would only be eight top tricks). Did that mean it was right to play on diamonds immediately? No, because he would then have no certain entry back to his remaining club winners.

So, before tackling the diamond suit, South cashed the three top clubs, both defenders following. When he led the diamond 10, West covered with the king, and the second key moment of the deal had arrived.

If declarer had won this trick with dummy’s ace, then he would soon discover that East still had a stopper in the suit. Needing four diamond tricks, declarer would have to play a fourth round of diamonds. East (the danger hand) would gain the lead, and a heart switch would allow the defenders to score three hearts, two clubs and one diamond trick to beat the game.

Foreseeing this possibility, and needing only four diamond tricks rather than five, declarer allowed West’s diamond king to win. Now the safe hand (West, who could not attack hearts) was on lead, and though he had two clubs to cash, declarer would claim nine winners as soon as he regained the lead.

You can play the pass as either a desire to play for penalties or an escape request, and the latter may come up more frequently. But if you do want to play for penalties, it is very irksome to be unable to do so when your RHO psyches a redouble, isn't it? I suggest passes or redoubles are always to play except at the one-level. It is a simple blanket agreement and an easy one to remember.


♠ A K 5
 7 6 5 2
 A Q J 4 2
♣ 6
South West North East
Dbl. Rdbl. Pass 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


Bruce KarlsonJanuary 4th, 2013 at 3:11 pm

An excellent example of the joys of simply counting one’s tricks. Any player with double digit MPs could make this hand. I am confident, however, that many clubs would see players with much more experience “routinely” misplaying it. One hopes that I would not be among them. Bruce

bobbywolffJanuary 4th, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Hi Bruce,

Being the honest sort you are (and my guess, always have been), you realistically fear the worst (only in bridge) which could happen and include doubt about yourself rising to the occasion.

Sure, your thought process is realistic, but from that starting point comes the opportunity for you to play good bridge, rather than experience the sadness of the game itself, driving you to distraction and failure.

A more constructive way to look upon it, is to realize what a wonderful game we play, full of poisoned flowers on the way to success, but easily enough avoided by those who have the discipline, patience, and above all, determination, to get it done. Mental challenge?, sure, necessity to think clearly? absolutely. very difficult to solve? hardly.

Is this process worth it? definitely, if only for the self-esteem which comes with, which, in turn and with time, will enable the confidence
necessary to jump the next hurdle.