Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

It's not how old you are, it's how you are old.

Jules Renard

West North
Neither ♠ A Q 8 7 2
 K 10 6 4
 K 5
♣ J 6
West East
♠ K J 6 4
 Q J 9 5
 J 9
♣ A Q 5
♠ 9 5 3
 8 7 2
 10 6 4 3
♣ K 10 2
♠ 10
 A 3
 A Q 8 7 2
♣ 9 8 7 4 3
South West North East
1♣ 1♠ Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
2 NT Pass 3 NT All pass


The most recent phenomenon in bridge both in America and all around the world is the growing popularity of the senior tournament, limited to those 55 and over.

Al Levy, a New York player and organizer, reached an aggressive no-trump game in this deal from a senior knockout teams after West had opened one club, playing a strong notrump and five-card majors.

Levy, who was favored with the lead of the heart queen, resisted the temptation to win in hand, take the heart finesse, and rely on the diamonds splitting. (He would always have time for that later on.) Instead, he took the heart ace and ducked a club. East won cheaply and played a second heart. Now Levy ducked a second club. West pressed on with establishing his hearts by leading a third round, and Levy won in dummy and paused for a reassessment. West’s failure to lead a club, coupled with the play in that suit so far, persuaded him that the suit was splitting, so he discarded a diamond on the heart, overtook the diamond king, and gave up a club. When the spade finesse succeeded, he had nine tricks: three hearts, and two tricks in each of the side-suits.

Did you note that the defense had one chance left in the ending? West could have cut communications by leading a spade; but it had to be an honor. Leading a low spade would allow declarer to run the trick to his hand and come home eventually.

When you bid two hearts, you suggested you had a minimum hand and at least three hearts. (You could be forced to introduce a three-card suit here.) Since your hand is very suitable for play in hearts and you have no particular defense to clubs — with no wasted values in that suit, you must compete to three hearts now.


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

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 24th, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Hi Bobby,

Declarer’s table presence worked well on this hand as if West held (say) Kx QJ9x Jxx AQxx the defence would surely have gone in a similar fashion. East holding CK10 in that case wouldn’t play the CK after winning the 10 in case declarer held (say) CA987x and weaker diamonds.

I’m now eligible for Masters events as I was 55 in March. I don’t feel too bad about this, though – I did some adult swimming trainng at a club in my early 30s and you’re eligible for Masters events from 25+ although there are age groups. It is still a bit young to be officially classed as being past your best, though. I retaliated by getting faster until my early 40s so maybe there is hope regardless.



Bobby WolffJuly 24th, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, legal table feel (no peeking or watching opponents play cards from specific places in their hands) is, to me, the most important difference between merely great bridge technicians and others who obtain even greater results.

Also, and especially if dementia does not genetically run in one’s family (and sometimes even if it does), with proper near maximum mental exercise through the years (mostly by merely using your grey matter a lot), a player can already not lose even a half step as he approaches 70 or especially 80, and what he may lose in memory (not much) he may more than make up for in useful experience.

Your Masters event system at home is indeed interesting, a process that I had not heard of before.

You also entwine physical with mental acumen which, no doubt, have a correlation, but when it comes to others officially (or not) classifying one as beyond his best it seems rather subjective. However, I am not in a position to judge the result so I leave it up to you to assess its accuracy and whether the proclamations from above are just and worthy.

Thanks for the unique disclosure.

jim2July 24th, 2013 at 7:27 pm

If you were West with the identical auction, what would you have led with the following holding?

S J643
H QJ982
D J94
C 5

Bobby WolffJuly 24th, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Hi Jim2,

Sorry for being dense as to which hand you are referring to, but in both the column hand and the BWTA hand you have opened 1 club and since Iain referred to a hand with values to have opened one club, I am in a quandary as to what hand you mean, since your example hand does not fit his circumstances.

If you are basically asking what lead to make, if being West, and having North bid both spades and hearts with South winding up in 3NT, I would probably lead a heart, but not the queen, probably either the 8 or the 2. However, if diamonds had not been bid by the opponents I would lead the 4 of diamonds, all done without enthusiasm for a worthwhile result, but rather as a default choice.

jim2July 24th, 2013 at 8:24 pm

I was referring to the column hand.

Levy, who was favored with the lead of the heart queen, resisted the temptation to win in hand, take the heart finesse, and rely on the diamonds splitting. (He would always have time for that later on.) Instead, he took the heart ace and ducked a club.

bruce karlsonJuly 24th, 2013 at 11:40 pm

Bobby- Thank you for mentioning that watching from where in the hand an opponent’s card is played, and using that information, is unethical. I thought that the opps had the burden of concealing same. I have used that (rarely) but will not do so again.


P.S. Still on the case!!!!