Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Verse sweetens toil, however rude the sound;
She feels no biting pang the while she sings;
Nor, as she turns the giddy wheel around,
Revolves the sad vicissitudes of things.

Richard Gifford

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


At the Dyspeptics Club complaining about bad luck is something of an art-form.

Here South grumbled that he should have followed his instincts instead of wasting time getting a complete count of the hand when the diamond queen was with West, the short hand, instead of with East, the long hand. While he had a point, of sorts, he had missed a simple clue at the end that would have eliminated any guesswork.

Against four spades West led the heart king, continued with the ace, then played a third round to kill off dummy’s now established nine. East ruffed, South overruffed, and started on trumps. West won the second round and got off lead with his last trump, while his partner discarded two diamonds.

When South tested the clubs, he found they were 4-2. At this point it was clear that West had started with three spades, six hearts, two clubs and hence only two diamonds. Playing, as he thought, with the odds, declarer crossed to the diamond king and finessed the jack, only to lose to West’s now bare queen.

Either opponent could have held the missing queen, granted, but before testing the clubs, declarer should have played off his last trump, throwing a diamond from the table. Then, after running the club winners, in the three-card end position East has to keep his club jack, so must come down to only two diamonds. Now, irrespective of its whereabouts, the diamond queen must fall in two rounds.

A hand that can't open or overcall at its first turn can't sensibly jump at its next turn to show a single-suited hand. Here the three-club call is a fit jump — say, four-card spade support and ace-queen fifth of clubs. You have a little in hand for your overcall, but not enough shape to drive to game. Bid three diamonds to show where you live, and let partner determine if he has enough to bid game.


♠ K J 9 7 5
 Q 7
 A J 2
♣ K 6 3
South West North East
1 Pass 1
1♠ Pass 3♣ 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


Iain ClimieAugust 22nd, 2013 at 10:10 am

Hi Bobby,

A nice example of a sshow-up squeeze today and a horrible warning against “semi-think” as I call it. If I relax and play by feel, things usually go reasonably. If I think things through completely, I hope to get the problem right albeit causing the head to hurt. If I give the problem some thought, but not quite enough, I wind up with a slight headache and get it wrong – a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and you get the worst of both worlds.

I had a session like that last night – the more I tried to think, the less effective the results, at least in terms of defence on several hands.



David WarheitAugust 22nd, 2013 at 10:36 am

Minor point: You say that S should cash the last trump “before testing the clubs’. Not necessarily. S can test the clubs before cashing the last trump, provided he wins his CK after cashing the AQ.

Herreman RobertAugust 22nd, 2013 at 11:23 am

Looks like this one already published… that is two in a row, 17 & 18July…

Herreman RobertAugust 22nd, 2013 at 11:24 am

no, sorry, only yesterday….

jim2August 22nd, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Robert H –

I assume you know that this blog contains Wolff’s column deals published in print with a two week delay.

Bobby WolffAugust 22nd, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Hi Iain,

You often make reference to the psychological side of our game, which in turn makes reference to your play (good but sometimes erratic) depending on how you feel. How true for most!

My thoughts then go to what makes a very good player who has the numeracy, desire and therefore card ability to play at a high level consistently. On such a situation do I think many members of our relatively small, around the globe, group of commentators belong here on this site.

To get to that next higher status, however, one must have the time and circumstances to get the huge number of repetitions necessary (true in many, perhaps all significant competitions) in order for consistency to be at a very high level.

This possibility, at least IMO, is available to all those (or at least a majority) who regularly write important questions and answers to our bridge columns. The talent is obviously there, only in need of developing a partnership capable of competing against the best which, if fortune would shine, would surely develop.

However time and circumstances must allow this to occur, which sometimes might range from difficult to impossible. The above are just my thoughts, but my experience has demanded me to pass them on.

Good luck to any and everyone who can climb that mountain to not only love the game itself, but to then enjoy the acclaim which success always brings, with victories which reward enterprise. One bright person once said, “Luck is the result of when hard work meets opportunity” and, at least to me, that is what top level bridge is all about.

Bobby WolffAugust 22nd, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Hi David,

Yes, you are, of course, correct and could liken it to a hunter who decides on when to pull the trigger enabling, in this case, for the show up squeeze to be executed. I guess that choice can be called flair rather than execution.

Bobby WolffAugust 22nd, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Hi Robert & Jim2,

Yes, Robert there are moving parts to our project and by having them, they are subject to gremlins.

Please excuse and thanks to Jim2 for his timely explanation. I enjoy working and writing with our very special group of intelligent, thoughtful and insightful bridge lovers.

Jeff SAugust 22nd, 2013 at 3:42 pm

I think I know where this particular gremlin was hatched. If you remember, sometime in July, we were treated to two columns on the same day and the articles ran one day ahead for a whilel (that is, on Monday, we would see a column dated for the Tuesday two weeks earlier). Then, the dates were suddenly correct again – but we didn’t have to go a day without a column to get back on track which was puzzling.

My guess is that the duplicate column yesterday means that we are now exactly where we should be again and all is right with the world.

Iain ClimieAugust 22nd, 2013 at 4:10 pm

I don’t worry too much about any slight slips in the column as the contents far outweigh them, the quotes are great and there is an alleged typesetting joke here. Let he or she who is typographically perfect cast the first ston! I look forward to hearing from Robert again.

Bobby WolffAugust 22nd, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Hi Jeff S,

Thanks for the detective work, which, no doubt, would qualify you for an indispensable position in the laboratory of CSI. Pity the murderer, I’d say.

Thanks for taking the time for both your investigation and relaying it to all of us.

I comment on this since that type of reasoning also often applies to high-level bridge in determining declarer play and defense.

Bobby WolffAugust 22nd, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Hi Iain,

Thanks for your kind comments.

However, the foundation of good bridge play is based on percentages and with the world so well inhabited, surely someone (albeit not too many) out there is qualified to cast that first stone and I may be the target. OUCH!

Iain ClimieAugust 22nd, 2013 at 5:44 pm

That wasn’t me – see sshow up squeeze in my first post.