Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

She deceiving,
I believing;
What need lovers wish for more?

Sir Charles Sedley

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


Behavior that would be frowned on away from the bridge table is positively encouraged over the green baize. While you should never mislead the opponents by your demeanor or tempo, you should try to make life as hard for your opponents as you can by the cards you play.

Today’s six-heart contract occurred at rubber bridge, North having been rather too pushy in the bidding. When you are in a bad contract, desperate measures are called for; and on this occasion declarer was on the ball. Having sized up the situation quickly, he ducked the opening diamond lead smoothly in both hands, and what is more, carefully contributed the diamond eight from hand, making East’s five look very big to West.

West could hardly be blamed for leading another diamond, thinking he had struck gold, but it was declarer who had come into riches. After the diamond continuation, South could ruff two diamonds in the dummy and throw his two spades away on dummy’s clubs: six hearts bid and made. This line had a far better chance than the legitimate line of playing for the club Q-J to ruff down, with hearts 2-2 and the spade ace onside.

I would be hesitant to cast the first stone at West, but I suppose he might have argued that if his partner had held the diamond ace, he could have overtaken at trick one and returned the suit, just to stop West from going wrong. But how many of us protect our partners in that way?

The jump to three spades is not natural, but a splinter, agreeing clubs and showing short spades. With a good hand consisting of diamonds and spades, partner would simply bid two spades and if necessary repeat his suit. So use Blackwood and drive to a small or grand slam in clubs, as appropriate, depending on the response.


♠ J 9 5 4
 A Q
 7 6
♣ A K 10 9 4
South West North East
1 Pass
2♣ 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


Jeff SSeptember 10th, 2013 at 6:04 pm

I can hardly blame West for placing South with something like 2821 distribution, maybe with AK in spades and xx x in the minors although you make a good point that an alert East could very well take his AD and play back another diamond to set the contract if that was the case. Maybe West worried that his partner was asleep? Or maybe he just didn’t stop to think it through (I can easily picture myself thoughtlessly throwing down a second diamond, especially if it was late in the session and I was a bit tired).

I am a little confused by the statement that East’s five would look very large to West. Wouldn’t the nine be normal?


Bobby WolffSeptember 10th, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Hi Jeff S,

While defending against a slam, a partnership must still rely on the particular card played and not wish they could turn the cards over in view of partner, similar to an open book quiz.

Yes, you are correct, the nine is the correct card to play, but common bridge sense (CBS, and not the CBS media network) should suggest that if East doesn’t play the ace, it is only for one reason and that is he does not possess it. Ergo, since it is North who bid 6 hearts and since CBS dictates that South has the ace of diamonds, there is no reason to play partner for the wrong ace, which in this case is diamonds and not spades.

Yes, it is nice to downplay West’s horrific mistake, but not if EW want to learn to play much better. The more life changes, the more life stays the same and in this case unless West looks himself right in the mirror and admits to a simply awful play, that partnership, or at the least that player, will really have no incentive to improve (which is always harder to do than some of us expect).

Is one’s bridge game easy to improve? No, not at all. Is it impossible? No, not at all, but it sometimes involves thinking for some, which is outside the box, and straight from logic, to be learned from concentrating if not already known and not from just having fun, but considering the bidding and what the two other players, rather than dummy (and he is controlled by declarer), did and why.

Bob HerremanSeptember 24th, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Using BW commits to 6level, while we might have a spade looser (sure) and one or two D loosers.
Aren’t u afraid of that ?
Bidding 4 Clubs, would that be forcing ?