Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 28th, 2013

If young hearts were not so clever,
Oh, they would be young for ever.

A.E. Housman

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

*11-15 balanced


When Sweden and France battled it out in the seniors' contest in the European Championships in Dublin, the match ended 16-14 in favor of the French. However, the Swedes picked up a swing here after a Precision auction had seen them reach five clubs rather than three no-trump.

Sven-Ake Bjerregard got a spade lead, which went to dummy’s king and East’s ace. East then gave declarer a chance when he returned the diamond two. He could have played any other suit and the defense would still have been in control. Bjerregard went up with the diamond ace, cashed the king, and ruffed a low diamond in dummy. Declarer continued with a trump to the king and another diamond ruff in dummy, but this time ruffing with the queen while East threw a spade. Two rounds of trump followed, and on the last round declarer discarded a low heart from dummy. Poor East also had to discard a heart, since he would have given up control of the spades if he had thrown one away. Bjerregard then played a heart to dummy’s ace, stripping East of his last heart, and next led a low spade from dummy. East had no escape: he tried playing low, but when declarer had the eight, he could claim his contract.

This was 10 IMPs to Sweden when the French pair at the other table failed by a trick in three no-trump.

Did you open a minor suit because of the open major suits? If so, award yourself the white feather of cowardice! With a quintessentially balanced hand, you must show it at one go by opening one no-trump — partly to pre-empt the opponents out of their fits, partly to let partner know the nature of your hand.


♠ 8 6 5
 8 5
 A K 6 4
♣ A K J 3
South West North East

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


Iain ClimieJuly 12th, 2013 at 10:55 am

Hi Bobby,

Was this bad luck for East or careless talk costs contracts? It could have been worse, though.

Imagine 3S X (or even XX) is passed out. East leads a heart, declarer takes the 2nd one and plays SK. East wins and plays a D (say) but declarer can double dummy cash 3C, 2D and a D ruff, then lead a heart towards S8x. East has to ruff in and lead a trump into the Q10. Ouch!



Bruce KarlsonJuly 12th, 2013 at 6:07 pm

There is a bridge cruise out of New Orleans in Feb. Currently there is no director/lecturer. Ergo, I suggested you and Judy. They are definitely interested. If you are please re:


bobby wolffJuly 12th, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Hi Iain,

Three spades doubled is a possible contract, once partner passes 3 spades doubled since his pass should, at least, show a tolerance for spades, which with 3 small is marginal.

For those not so feint at heart players it would just be another day at the office, and by scoring up nine tricks becomes what is to them, worth the risk.

Way too much excitement for me, but I do not want to be a spoil sport.

Patrick CheuJuly 13th, 2013 at 4:03 am

Hi Bobby, my pard opens 1NT(12-14),RHO overcalls 2S,pass out.I held S 82 H 7654 D 103 C KQ842,and led KC.Dummy:S 109 H A1082 D KJ984 C 63.Pard plays 10C on KC,declarer plays low.I(woodenly?) play a low club on trick2 and pard wins with Ace and switches to a low spade,when the smoke clears,declarer has 10tricks for average plus. I blame myself for not switching to a heart on trick 2,is that the clear play?Pard held S J754 H KQJ D 62 C AJ109-I would have overtaken with AC and attack hearts with pard’s hand..Declarer held S AKQ63 H 93 D AQ75 C 75.Your thoughts would be much appreciated.Regards-Patrick

Bobby WolffJuly 13th, 2013 at 4:22 am

Hi Patrick,

1. Bridge is a tough game, which is a main reason many of us play it.

2. Although every hand is at least, slightly different, the defender with the best opportunity to defend it correctly should normally take charge.

3. I agree with you that your partner, looking at the king queen jack of hearts should know that once you, are showing up with almost certainly the King Queen of clubs that the declarer is going to have the diamond suit waiting for discards so, since your partner will likely be able to ruff a diamond with the jack of spades before a discard is set up should overtake your second club (or perhaps the first one) and switch to the king of hearts awaiting your count signal.

4. End of story and your partnership would get a few more precious matchpoints, always the object.

Good luck and worthy of your discussing it with your partner.

Patrick CheuJuly 13th, 2013 at 7:11 am

Hi Bobby, many thanks for your encouraging comment,most appreciated.There was another hand of bidding interest,if you hold AQJ94 AK864 void 754,all vul,Pard pass,RHO opens 5D,would you double here? Would that be for take-out or penalties? Pard holds K1062 QJ53 KJ7 J9, 5H or 5S has good play-RHO held Void 92 A10986532 KQ3, his pard held 8753 107 Q4 A10862.Regards-Patrick.

Patrick CheuJuly 13th, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Hi Bobby,looking at the column hand,5c makes and 3NT went off,I note that in the other room KH was led against 3NT,no further data on play available.Double dummy,declarer ducks the first heart,takes the second heart,plays out the Ace and King of clubs and JC overtakes with QC as West shows out,declarer then plays QS,if East ducks,declarer plays a diamond to Ace,and 3C to 5C in North,and a second diamond to king and third diamond unless East plays the QD,then duck,win the third D,and exit with the 8S endplays East for a second spade trick.If East wins the Qs and exit with QD,duck and follows the same line,taking three rounds of diamonds and pitching the third heart on third diamond hence why declarer ducks only one round of hearts only(hard to see).Thus losing one heart,diamond and two spades.I stand to be corrected..regards~Patrick 🙂

bobby wolffJuly 14th, 2013 at 7:29 am

Hi Patrick,

Since you are right, you should receive the congratulations for being so.

Since the column refers only to 3NT failing at the other table, obviously declarer was not as adept as you were by suggesting playing diamonds in a way which prevented his partner, West, from getting in to run them, but at the same time, removing the diamond out cards from East before he was thrown in to give declarer his ninth trick, forcing that defender into leading back into the spades, allowing the contract making trick to occur.

All of the above is good card reading and expert avoidance play by a hypothetical very good declarer.

Thanks for your lesson on how to do it.