Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 31st, 2013

It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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


Today's deal comes from the American trials to select a team for the 2011 Bermuda Bowl. Both tables declared four hearts from the South seat after a simple overcall in spades by West. In one room West cashed the two top spades, then shifted to a trump won in dummy. A successful finesse of the diamond queen was followed by a trump to dummy and then the club 10. West, Lew Stansby, won and could exit safely with a diamond. Now declarer could not avoid a second club loser.

The initial three tricks in the other room replicated those of the first. But here, Bobby Levin cashed a second heart in dummy, finding the 4-1 trump break. Abandoning trumps, Levin successfully ran the diamond 10 and followed with a diamond to his queen. A trump to dummy and another diamond brought forth the king and ace.

Before playing on, Levin analyzed the bidding. West had made a simple overcall. He was likely to hold six spades. If he had any fewer, then East would probably have supported his partner. That being so, with a six-card spade suit without the club king, West might well have made a weak jump overcall. These clues were enough for Levin to place West with the club king, so he got off play with the club queen. Well reasoned — West won and was endplayed into either returning a club or giving a ruff and discard.

There is no need to jump around like a kangaroo here. When you rebid one no-trump, you suggest more than a strong no-trump. (If you had less, without primary support, you would pass.) Partner should assume you have these values. If he then elects to play in spades, you ought to have no reason to argue with him.


♠ Q 5
 K 7 6 5
 A Q J 2
♣ A Q 2
South West North East
Dbl. 1 1♠ 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


jim2September 14th, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Levin experienced a reverse form of ToCM ™ on this hand, as leading the deuce towards dummy’s 10C also would have sufficed.

Bobby WolffSeptember 14th, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Hi Jim2,

Ah, yes, but West was more likely to have the king since with 2 kings (D+C) East might have supported spades with 3. Of course, that was with Levin not you, since whichever one you would have attempted, ToCM would have surely done you in.

Oh well, you can still teach well, since your curse cannot stop you from determining percentage actions, or can it?

bruce karlsonSeptember 14th, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Suppose our host is sitting West and can see trouble against Levin. Ergo, he takes the club 10 with his King. Absent the ability to see through the backs of the cards, Levin will confidently finesse the club nine and both sides have a good story.

jim2September 14th, 2013 at 3:52 pm

bruce karlson –

Levin is leading from the closed hand towards North. If West wins the KC, it will be before the 10C is played and West is endplayed into leading with declarer the last to play to the trick.

jim2September 14th, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Bobby Wolff –

Actually, fear of ToCM ™ would have made me play the hand differently than did Levin.

I would not have used a third trump to take the third diamond finesse.

Instead, I would have:

– lost first two spades
– won H shift on Board
– 10D finesse (before second H)
– JD finesse
– H to Board (1-4 break revealed)
– xD to KD to AD (safe because West out of trump)
– xH to Board
– 10C from Board, covering or letting it run to endplay West

Bobby WolffSeptember 15th, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Hi Jim2,

Your line is trading on the fact that West will not have a singleton diamond and not switch to it at trick 3. However if he had the king of clubs he probably will not need partner to have the ace of diamonds to get his immediate ruff except if declarer’s hand is: s. Qx, h, Kxxx d. KQJxxx, c. A. Perhaps then Stansby would have led a diamond, but who is to say?

Your play could easily be right, but, of course going set when hearts always broke.

jim2September 15th, 2013 at 11:31 pm

True that I discounted the chance that West could have a singleton diamond and defend per the column.