Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 10th, 2013

'Tis the good reader that makes the good book.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

*Hearts, plus club fit


I always appreciate receiving deals from my readers. Here is one from Orville St. Clair, who pointed out the elegance of the possibilities in the deal, which he had played in four diamonds, making 11 tricks. Let's consider instead that he had been in five diamonds, to appreciate the full beauty of the play.

If you look at all four hands, you will see that there are two inescapable aces for declarer to lose in five diamonds, so the key to the deal is to avoid losing a second spade trick. After a top heart lead, declarer would like to find a way to force the defenders to open up his vulnerable suits. Remember, there is no suit that you can play to more advantage by yourself, compared to having the opponents tackle it for you.

So, win the heart lead and advance the club queen. East will no doubt cover, but no matter what he does, you play the ace and ruff a club, ruff a heart, ruff a club, and ruff another heart before leading a high trump from your hand. When East wins, he could lead either a club or heart to let you pitch a spade from hand and ruff in dummy, or he can shift to a spade. You put in the 10 and this is covered by West’s jack and won by the queen. Next a spade toward the king means East will win just one spade trick, whether he takes the ace now or later.

You have the perfect shape and high-cards to double two hearts, although you are at the minimum end of the range,. Double suggests short hearts and playability in both the unbid suits. Why rebid three diamonds when you have no guarantee of a fit? Ask partner what he has, rather than repeat your story.


♠ K 10 3
 K J 10 7 4 3
♣ A J 3
South West North East
2 2 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


David WarheitJanuary 24th, 2013 at 9:21 am

Or south can cash the jack of clubs pitching a heart, ruff a club, ruff a heart, and lead a diamond for the same endplay. If he didn’t have the jack of clubs, your line is the only one. Also if east doesn’t cover, your line is necessary in the unlikely event that west has the king. TRIVIAL COMMENT!

Iain ClimieJanuary 24th, 2013 at 9:53 am

Hi Mr. Wolff,

A nice hand but can I raise a more general question. If I have a hand of possible interest (which might even be suitable for the column) or a query for Sunday, what is the best way to submit it? I don’t want to clog up the blog, so should I use the alternative e-mail address specified for your autobiography?


Iain Climie

bobby wolffJanuary 24th, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Hi David,

Yes, of course, you are correct.

Real hands, which most of ours are, submitted by others or “borrowed” from bridge periodicals often lend themselves to alternate variations which almost always stay on the same theme but are rarely mentioned since saved space is often critical in condensing what we are entitled to.

However, having said that, I, for one, am delighted that you ADD to the authenticity for mentioning a play or two which also leads to the same result. For some, that addition only adds to the description and certainly validates the variation making your role educational, if sometimes your addition only serves as enforcing the main theme.

What you add may only better describe what good bridge playing, bidding and/or defending are all about, but many times, as long as the proper theme is discussed, there are more ways than just one to get there.

bobby wolffJanuary 24th, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, by all means use the email suggested and, if necessary, important communication can either be through that email or, for that matter, right here on the blogging site.

Writing a world wide syndicated column requires a long time delay, (usually at least 4 months) because the process must go through several stages of creation, discussion, careful proofreading (sometimes not careful enough), syndicate approval (more legal than better bridge) by their own employees, and eventual timely distribution, besides insertion by the individual newspapers who are often hurting for space available (some do not carry the Sunday questions).

It should also be mentioned here, that our syndicate (United Features and U-Click) is being very generous to allow this bridge blogging site to carry the column pro bono for all involved (2 weeks delayed) in the interest of promoting bridge world-wide and reaching deprived bridge players where organized or even just social bridge playing and therefore the art and enjoyment of so being involved, are extremely rare.

It certainly is a bridge community service and I am proud, along with many unsung people involved, to be a contributing member in the hope of being a Johnny Bridgeseed for the game’s future.

For those who are interested, bridge has taken a sensational step forward with now bridge being taught in many primary and secondary schools for credit in many countries in Europe and now reaching two hundred million students in China as part of their general curriculum.

I, as a very long time bridge devotee and lover, can from the heart, recommend the many supreme advantages bridge has to offer
a youngster with its problem solving, arithmetic logic, legal partnership limited communication (bidding), psychological judgment, intense mental concentration, and overall positive and non-violent (usually) competition.

It is no wonder to me that continually at bridge’s world championship (annually), middle Eastern countries and Israel play against each other, always with great respect and admiration and wonder of wonder, often socialize together before and afterwards with, of course bridge being the common denominator, but in actuality treating each other as brothers and sisters who have the glory of playing a great peaceful mental game against each other, but doing so with great pride and equally as important, peace of mind.

Please excuse the above commercial, but I think it needs to be said.

Bill CubleyJanuary 24th, 2013 at 8:27 pm


A firend had me record a movie from 1941 on AMC, Grand Slam. Loretta Young was in it.

It is about a man who does not play bridge but is encouraged to by his wife. He invents a system where husbands and wives can play without arguing. He plays the leading expert, Mr. Van Dorn, betas him to create headlines.

One bit of dialogue amused me. “Can’t anyone play without using a system? Aren’t they allowed to think and use logic?” The plaeyrs all yell, “NO!” to him.

He makes a fortune with his book. Alas, no cards are shown but there is some bidding.

One wife makes a bid of 2 clubs and explains her husband was thinking about her bidding two clubs so it was right to bid it after he passed.

The good old days of social bridge. 😉

bobby wolffJanuary 25th, 2013 at 12:17 am

Hi Bill,

Yes, bridge (in one way or another) has played a part in various movies, and many movie and TV stars played it often.

While a member of the Aces in the early 1970’s many media stars were invited and appeared on Sunday morning at his house for a special brunch, while being part of a road show, barnstorming through Dallas. Phyllis Diller and Meredith Baxter were two episodes wherein I partnered the star. Of course, George Burns also was my partner for a set game against two good players which event was chronicled in my book. Believe it or not, George who played every day he wasn’t working, at a country club in LA, was a very good player, and had a sign posted sometime in the 1990’s which said that smoking was not permitted at that CC except for people over 95 (George lived past his 100 birthday).

bobby wolffJanuary 25th, 2013 at 12:19 am

I neglected to mention above that he was Ira Corn (founder of the Aces) who supplied the house.