Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 5th, 2013

A gentleman is simply a patient wolf.

Lana Turner

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


Most bridge books have nothing but bridge deals in them. By contrast, my last book, "The Lone Wolff," has almost no deals at all in it. It mainly discusses my life, and the politics of bridge at world level. As a former President of the World Bridge Federation and American Contract Bridge League, I came into contact with most of the superstars of the game, both as an administrator and as a member of the Dallas Aces, the team of American superstars gathered together by Ira Corn to break the Italian lock on the Bermuda Bowl.

This deal, however, is featured in the book. Against five diamonds I led the club queen. George Burns, who could have been a serious bridge player had not his illustrious show-business career as a comedian, actor and writer taken first call on his time, overtook with the ace, collecting South’s king.

Burns knew from the bidding that declarer held neither three hearts nor four spades, so found the only defense to beat declarer’s game — he returned a heart at trick two. Now declarer was unable to pitch losing spades on winning hearts, as Burns could ruff in.

If declarer had played a trump at trick three, Burns would have risen with his ace to return his second heart. But as I told Burns afterwards, I had played my part in the defense — by holding the diamond seven. If the diamond six and seven had been interchanged, the game could not have been defeated.

When partner makes a slam-try and you have such good hearts, you owe him a little cooperation. Since you cannot cue-bid or (perish the thought!) use Blackwood, all that is left is a jump to five hearts, which, since it denies the ability to cue-bid, should show good trumps.


♠ Q J 5 3
 A Q J 6
 6 2
♣ 9 8 3
South West North East
1 Pass
3 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


jim2September 20th, 2013 at 11:40 am

If declarer believes Mr. Burns, then he could have given him another scene in which to star.

That is, win the heart shift on the board and cast the QS. Mr. Burns must duck (theatrically or not) or villain South would still prevail.

Bobby WolffSeptember 20th, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Hi Jim2,

Luckily George’s mind was, in addition to one of the more underrated bridge players, totally focused directly on the hand itself and probably would just have chomped on his ever present cigar, before quickly ducking, perhaps with a small chuckle which, no doubt, would have caused him to sigh when he thought about his beloved wife Gracie, who had already died some years before.

My guess from my casual but impressive to me, meeting and brief bridge partnership with this very special person, was that he, indeed, set a very high standard for others in his famous category and has remained in my thoughts for a long time.

Thank you for calling attention to one of the highlights of my bridge life, perhaps the one my memory most dotes on.