Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 24th, 2013

It is a folly to expect men to do all that they may reasonably be expected to do.

Archbishop Whately

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


The 2010 Richard Freeman Junior Deal of the Year prize went to Carole Puillet of France for today's deal, played during the European Junior Pairs in Opatija, Croatia, and originally written up by Brian Senior of England.

The defense to two hearts began with three rounds of diamonds, which saw East ruff low and South overruff. A low club to dummy’s ace allowed Carole to play the heart queen, and when that held, a second heart drew trump.

Carole now knew that West had started with eight red cards. If clubs broke 3-3, then declarer could play king and another club. The defense would now either have to broach spades, giving declarer a winner in that suit, or give a ruff and discard. However, if clubs were 4-2 or worse, then East, the likely length holder, would return the suit and declarer would probably have three spade losers.

There was a small extra chance, which Carole spotted. Hoping that one player had started with precisely the doubleton club queen, she exited with the club nine. That was West’s holding; so at the next trick she had no option but to play a spade, hoping that East held the king and jack. No joy there.

Note that had clubs broken 3-3, then on winning the club nine, the defense could have returned a club to the king. But under these circumstances, West could only have held two spades; therefore leading toward the spade queen would have held declarer’s spade losers to two.

When you first learn the game, you are taught that you redouble in this auction with a good hand. True, that is an option, but you should not redouble if you have a strong one-suited hand. Simply bid the suit and ignore the opponents' intervention. Your call of one heart as an unpassed hand is just as forcing as if the opponents had not bid at all.


♠ J 7 5
 A J 10 9 7
 Q 10
♣ K 9 3
South West North East
1 Dbl.

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


jim2June 6th, 2013 at 11:28 am

If West inserts the QC at Trick 4, the column line is no longer available.

Declarer is not quite done, however. After winning the AC, the QH is advanced as before but now East dares not let it hold (as in the column).

If the QH does hold, then declarer can lead a low club, East is forced to split, declarer wins the KC, draws the last trump, and exits with the 9C. East wins, but the Board’s mighty 8C is now good so the defense is forced to broach spades and declarer still has two trump left to ensure getting a spade trick.

So, the defense can prevail, but only if both defenders are alert to throwing their round suit honors under declarer’s bus early!

If that’s what had happened, then maybe the prize would still have been awarded for the deal, but to the defenders!

Bobby WolffJune 6th, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, everything you say is as right as anyone can be, and it took positive thought by you to think it through.

And, if the defense would perform up to what the quote by Archbishop Whately wants them to do, they even may legitimately do it. However, realistically, bridge is just too difficult for any partnership (or individual) to be able to see through the backs of the cards enabling them to be brilliant.

Unfortunately, if any defensive partnership would perform to such standards, they would immediately be suspected of either having the hand records previously or be told about that hand before they played it. Reason being is that the tossing of honors can only be right (although, in this particular case West may dump her queen) if and when from the defensive perspective (all unseen 13 of declarer’s hand) are pinpointed to be exact, and for the most part (perhaps 99% of the time) they cannot be predicted.

However, in no way do you lose credibility for suggesting that defense since it only emphasizes the way to analyse, just in case it happens to be that way.

And for your awards, both sides, in your example, would be in the runniing with the defense winning, but still the thought by declarer should also be rewarded.

jim2June 6th, 2013 at 2:54 pm

I agree that West did miss the opportunity to pitch the QC under the AH.

David WarheitJune 7th, 2013 at 12:51 am

Jim2: your first comment is brilliant, and I don’t agree with our webmaster that had the defenders played as you suggested it would have brought the tournament director to the table (and it could only be west’s play, not east’s fairly normal covering of the heart queen). Your second comment, however, is not right, since west followed suit when declarer led the heart ace. West only gets one bite at the apple, not two.

jim2June 7th, 2013 at 11:18 am

David –


My comment on the QC pitch under the AH referred to the third heart lead. You are correct that it did not happen because West expended a trump at Trick 3 so that a third trump lead did not happen in the column line. I had “played through” several variations as I tried other defenses, etc and lost sight of that. It does show, though, that at least one other actually reads some of what I post! 😉

Bobby WolffJune 7th, 2013 at 12:50 pm

To David and Jim2,

I had overlooked that East did not cover the queen of hearts, probably an unlikely play, unless West was dealt the singleton ace, improbable, since South had opened the bidding and had already turned up with little in both diamonds and clubs and only the ace and jack of spades possible, but it was rather more likely that West had the Jx in hearts, warranting a cover.

However, remember this is a junior event where players would have no way of experiencing various wide ranging suit combinations, which would be necessary for west to make the jettisoning play of the queen of clubs, divining out that she was about to be endplayed with it to have to break a new suit, therefore costing the defense the setting trick.

All of the forecasted great defense, while always possible, had NEVER been done against me, especially by players with the inexperience of juniors. It all happens at warp speed and if those kinds of plays are made, being necessary ones to complete fantastic defenses, it almost enters the world of the supernatural, since the queen of clubs will perhaps 90% of the time become an integral defensive card which will either take a trick or help promote partner to do so.

What I am saying with moral certainty, show me a player who makes these kinds of plays, either routinely or not, and I’ll show you a showboat who wants to impress, but most of the times ends up with egg on his (her) face.

Dream on, and discussing it is both fun and bridge educational, but executing it in tempo while being on defense is just not done by even the greatest players who have walked on this earth (at least to my knowledge).

A good testing ground would be the current open team trials which is presently about half finished and shown on BBO. Afterwards please tell me a comparable play made by one of our top current players, (and most of them had entered the event). Mistakes are plentiful and way too many for my taste, making it so that I believe that eliminating those card play mistakes have a better utility to them than searching out plays (especially defensive, which are usually more difficult) that will wow them in Peoria.

Please understand that I appreciate the subjects mentioned here on Bridge Blogging even when they enter the realm of the supernatural, but to think about actually making them, risking allowing a plus score to become a minus one, is definitively not a winning philosophy, even though it makes for sometimes scintillating discussion.

David WarheitJune 7th, 2013 at 6:11 pm

OK, Jim, just to prove that i ALWAYS read your comments, it was east, not west, who “expended a trump at Trick 3”.

jim2June 8th, 2013 at 1:32 am