Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively; unless you can choose a challenge instead of competence.

Eleanor Roosevelt

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


If you asked the top players in the world how much their success was due to competence, how much to brilliance, I suspect most would say that simply mastering the act of drawing trump, taking finesses and cashing winners would suffice to succeed at all but the very highest levels of the game.

Still, sometimes one needs imagination, or flair, to bring home the impossible contract or to defeat the laydown game. Today’s deal decided the qualifiers for the 1991 Venice Cup (the Ladies’ World Championships). Had Great Britain not gained a game swing on this deal, they would not have qualified.

The Spanish ladies had played in five diamonds from the North seat, and the defense did their best by leading three rounds of clubs. To succeed, declarer must draw only two trumps before testing the spades. When they do not split, she can ruff out the spades and cross back to dummy by drawing the last trump. The Spanish declarer failed to get it right and went one down.

Pat Davies of Great Britain declared four spades from the South seat, after East had shown a two-suiter in hearts and clubs. The defense also led three rounds of clubs, giving declarer an easy plus 420. But how would declarer have played if the Spanish defender had cashed two clubs and deviously switched to a low diamond? If you believe East is 2-5-1-5, you might easily rise with the diamond ace and rely on the spades to behave.

I would not necessarily advocate opening this hand in first or second seat because of the uncomfortable rebid over a response of one spade. In third seat, passing is not an option, although whether you open one heart for the lead or one diamond is a matter for your partnership — or your conscience. Put me down as a one-heart bidder.


♠ 10 2
 A K J 6
 Q J 9 4 3
♣ 4 3
South West North East
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 CheuJune 26th, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Hi Bobby,declarer is on a 50-50 guess as to whether trumps are 4-1 or 3-2,whilst there is no help from play thus far,perhaps all we have is the bidding which suggests some suits are not breaking,diamonds or trumps or both?!As with pre-empts,there is a tendency to play for trumps not breaking,maybe we should adopt a similar approach here? Unless there are contrary evidence,we can only resort to a psychological guess?! Regards-Patrick.

Bobby WolffJune 26th, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Hi Patrick,

Yes sir-ee! When I was trying to first win my spurs in the big time, I got some good advice from some of the New York experts. They advised that when high-level defenders appeared to have certain high cards or perhaps distributions, made to appear that way by the tempo of their plays (in this case a diamond singleton, rather than the Kx), play them for just the opposite, since they were already well aware of declarer’s problems and, of course, wanted to misdirect his efforts to being wrong, so bridge logic should suggest to go the way of the contra intuitive feel.

Vic Mitchell (from NY), in those long ago days, was supposedly the guru in misleading lesser experienced, but improving players, into selecting the wrong path.

At least to me, that advice was some of the best G2 I ever received.

Thanks, as usual, for writing.