Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of the ignorant.

Amos Alcott

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


Do you like the way North handled his cards in today's deal? I do. It is simple and straightforward, since North can reasonably expect to buy a decent five-card diamond suit. So long as his partner does not have significant wasted values in spades, slam should have good play. A slightly more prudent approach would be to jump to four spades at the second turn, as long as that promises specifically a singleton spade and not a void. If partner signs off in five diamonds, one can respect that approach.

Of course, today it turns out that South does have an almost wasted spade king and nothing in hearts — not to mention that neither clubs nor diamonds will behave as South might wish. And still the slam has decent play (if you can spot the winning line, which is not necessarily obvious).

The heart king goes to dummy’s ace, and declarer plays the diamond king, and a diamond to the ace. Next come the club ace, king, and queen, on which South throws a heart. A club ruff follows, and declarer next leads a diamond to the queen and takes the fifth club, discarding his last heart from hand.

In the four-card ending, dummy has a trump, a spade and two hearts, while South has three spades and a trump left. West has two spades and two hearts, and when declarer leads a spade to the 10, West must win but then cannot lead either major without conceding the rest.

You should double again, card-showing, not worried that you have only three hearts. Your partner will remove the double to four no-trump if he has a two-suiter, and will select hearts only if he has five of them. You cannot afford to pass out four spades with a hand this good, and bidding directly is too unilateral.


♠ 5
 A J 2
 K Q 5 3
♣ A K Q 6 5
South West North East
Dbl. 4♠ 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


Patrick CheuMarch 16th, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Hi Bobby, a good hand illustrating the supposedly ‘wastage’ in values in the opponent’s suit,that is the king of spades, and though xxx in hearts, dummy’s Jack of Hearts is a useful menace.To have the 10 of spades with the King is better than Kxx, as East can never get in with this layout.If declarer was stuck in his own hand,the ten of spades still works here, due to West’s AQJ97 of spades,down to AQ.Perhaps the hand should be…The Tale of the Ten of Spades.Best regards-Patrick.

Iain ClimieMarch 16th, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Hi Bobby,

It is just as well I wasn’t South – I’d probably have bid 1NT rather than 3D and managed to damp down North’s enthusiasm. I’d probably have wound up in 3N (even if North bid 3C and I bid 3D) as my spade holding would probably appear wasted. Notwithstanding the interesting play which occurred in practice, do you think 1N is a better reply than 3D in the first place?


Iain Climie

bobbywolffMarch 16th, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Hi Patrick & Iain,

Both of you, each in his own way, have captured the heart of the correct analysis on today’s hand.

Yes, Patrick, there is wastage with the king of spades and the three little hearts, along with South taking an overbid by responding 3 diamonds instead of Iain’s practical choice of 1NT. However, with deft play and as Patrick has pointed out, the use of the 10 of spades and then the jack of hearts, the deed got done.

All of the above emphasizes some wonderful attributes of our ultra challenging game, and sometimes even defies what some of us, including me, would define as bridge bidding logic.

Both of you have basic qualities which I wholeheartedly admire, inquiring bridge minds, emphasizing making choices and, more importantly, why, while at the same time self effacing honesty, admitting that with you being there the overall result would be lesser, but instead of dwelling on it, no doubt understand the nature of our game and sometimes what wonders can be accomplished (as on this hand) when we doggedly keep on trucking.

Although the above sometimes (often) turns out not so good, the lessons learned keeps our love for bridge shining brightly and better than that, tends to make us all improved players.

Top level bridge is, of course, very challenging, but keeps us on our toes and is worth whatever frustration it often causes.

Both of you have the right “stuff” to keep getting better and better, but, of course, the time required and circumstances surrounding it, must also lend itself to having a chance to do so. Amen, but, in my judgment, in any event and whatever happens, always remember that you two have this very special quality, which many would die for.

Good luck and thanks for participating in our little bridge blogging project in such positive ways.

BTW, Iain, I, also would have merely responded 1NT instead of 3 diamonds, and yes, Patrick, Robert Darvas, the great Hungarian bridge writer of “Right Through the Pack”, would, no doubt, have been proud to call the above hand the “Tale of the ten of spades”.

Finally, Amos Alcott, if he was a bridge player and had read your collective comments, might have changed his quote “To be conscious of one’s conscience is the apex of one’s character”, although the one he did make has much to recommend it.

Patrick CheuMarch 16th, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Hi Bobby and Iain, as regards 1NT by Iain,would North simply bids his clubs,or venture 2S over 2H by West?Three No-trump seems easier on this hand,though we may not reach the dynamic making 6D,if South does not bid 3D.Regards-Patrick.

bobbywolffMarch 16th, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Hi Patrick,

My guess is that North would merely jump to 3NT, if South would have responded 1NT instead of 3 diamonds over North’s original TO double. To, at this point, try and find a suit fit in order to explore for a better game than 3NT, much less a slam, is just not realistic, but, by saying that, I possibly might be including myself in Amos Alcott’s original quote.

Especially on this hand, I will refer back to some intelligent person, probably a bridge player, who said, “Always let the winner explain”, the declarer at 6 diamonds, not I.

Patrick CheuMarch 16th, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Hi Bobby,many thanks again for your enlightening views on this perplexing game at times,and thanks to your quote from Amos Alcott, I have indeed looked at 15 of his quotations on google.Life is indeed a learning curve.:) Very Best Regards-Patrick.