Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, December 29th, 2012

Civility costs nothing and buys everything.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

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


One of the stronger bridge players in the country for the last 30 years has been Eddie Wold. He is currently fourth on the ACBL's list of all-time masterpoint winners, with more than 50,000 masterpoints, and he has won all the major U.S. titles at least once.

In today’s deal he lured declarer on a sequence where North had transferred into spades, then offered the choice of games.

Four spades looked comfortable enough, at first glance. The opening lead was the heart king, and declarer won to take the diamond finesse. Wold ducked his diamond king smoothly, then ducked again when a spade was led from dummy.

Declarer won the spade king, cashed the club ace, and ruffed a club to lead another spade. Wold won the spade ace and led a heart for dummy to ruff. Declarer now picked up the last trump with his spade queen, denuding everyone of trumps. He then confidently cashed the club king and led a diamond, finessing the jack when West followed low. Only now did Wold produce the diamond king, and East-West took the rest of the tricks with the club queen and two good hearts for plus 200.

Should declarer have done anything different? I hardly think so, but had Wold taken the first diamond, declarer would surely have brought home 10 tricks, either by finessing the spade 10 at once, or by ruffing hearts to dummy twice to play spades toward his hand.

Once your partner passes one heart, you have no reason to assume that your side can make game. (North rates to have 10-13 points and three hearts or so.) You should simply bid one no-trump now, and let partner pass or correct to whatever strain he considers appropriate.


♠ A J 2
 J 9 7 2
 K 9
♣ Q 9 6 5
South West North East
Pass Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass Pass 1♠

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 WarheitJanuary 12th, 2013 at 9:27 am

If east wins the first diamond, south makes 11 tricks, not just 10.

I hereby nominate this comment for “Most Trivial Comment of the Year”, but I haven’t had anything to say so far this year, so that’s my excuse. Happy New Year, Bobby, and very many more!

Iain ClimieJanuary 12th, 2013 at 10:01 am

Hi Mr. Wolff,

What sort of scoring was involved here? If pairs or point a board, then fair enough, but isn’t this declarer play a bit rash at teams?

After the SK has won, declarer can surely afford to play a diamond to the Queen, guarding against a possible 4-1 diamond break – if East ruffs in with a small spade (from say Jxx, if West has held off, or AJx as here) then declarer should still get home. If East has DKxx he can now give West a ruff – but that is a plausible defence anyway, and declarer can still afford to lose one trump trick. The diamond finesse winning at T2 is no guarantee of the DK being with West, although the duck from Kx is still easier on paper than at the table. I think declarer got lulled into serious over-confidence here.

I loved yesterday’s comment at the start of the article although I tend to spend my days in a fairly comofrtable office. Strangely enough, I often get more fun from tearing out conifer trees at the weekend (I’m replacing leylandii with fruit trees at home) using only hand tools – a change can be as good as a rest, and it is far cheaper than the gym.

Regards (and HYN David),

Iain Climie

bobbywolffJanuary 12th, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Hi David,

Sometimes, what is trivial to some, may (in the interest of accuracy), be crucial to others, and, in addition, it is educational to see the huge swing involved in “What a difference a well-timed duck makes”.

Welcome back for the New Year and back to you for a healthy and prosperous 2013.

bobbywolffJanuary 12th, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Hi Iain,

Your analysis is basically right on, but perhaps the declarer feared West holding off with AJx of spades and the presumed king of diamonds. However, as you mention, being at the table sometimes causes confused thoughts when finesses appear to work, when everyone, including every good declarer would always fear a lst round diamond duck, although usually not with only Kx originally.

At any rate, Eddie deserves full credit for his bold play, although he has probably made similar plays multiple times over his long, successful career.

Thanks for your continued contributions to gardening and especially to the bridge players reading from around the world.

John Howard GibsonJanuary 12th, 2013 at 4:02 pm

HBJ : After taking the heart trick, and succeeding to make the diamond queen at trick 2 it is all plain sailing
Trick 3 Club Ace
Trick 4 Heart ruff
Trick 6 Diamond ruff ( 10 of spades )
Trick 7 Club King
Trick 8 Heart ruff
Trick 9 Diamond ( spade queen )
Trick 10 Club ruff ( 9 of spades )
Trick 11 Diamond ruff ( spade King )

Is this line of play unrealistic or against the odds ?

Iain ClimieJanuary 12th, 2013 at 10:32 pm

It falls foul of a 4-1 diamond break with the King onside – not odds on but also not too far fetched.