Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 12th, 2013

How I did respect you when you dared to speak the truth to me!

Anthony Trollope

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


Earlier this year, the final of the Dutch team championships was played between the two top Dutch teams, both sponsored by Onstein. Today's deal comes from that encounter.

Against Ton Bakkeren’s three-no-trump contract, Bauke Muller led the club three to the jack and queen. Declarer played a diamond to dummy’s queen, and Simon de Wijs won the ace and returned the club two. When declarer put in the 10, Muller won his king. If Muller had pressed on in clubs, all declarer would have to do was concede the diamond king to West, and the defenders would have taken no more than four tricks in the minor suits, while declarer would have had nine.

However, on winning the club jack, Muller switched to hearts, and all of a sudden declarer was in trouble. At the table Bakkeren won his heart ace at once, but when Muller came in with the diamond king, another heart did the job. The defense made two hearts, two diamonds and the club king.

Note that if declarer had won his club ace on the second round of the suit and had driven out the diamond king, he would be home. The lead of the club three and the return of the club two could (or perhaps should) have given him a clear picture of the club position. When East returned his low club, it strongly argued that the suit was initially 4-4. That in turn argues that East might deceptively have returned the five, not the two, at trick three.

This is a little-understood auction by those playing negative doubles. North's failure to bid two hearts at his first turn means he does not have enough to invite game. He rates to have six hearts and be in the range of 6-9 HCP. So you should pass rather than try for game and hope your partner can make his contract.


♠ A J 7
 9 2
 J 10 9 8 7
♣ A Q 10
South West North East
1 1♠ Dbl. Pass
1 NT Pass 2 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 ClimieSeptember 26th, 2013 at 10:08 am

Hi Bobby,

Would the C5 back work here as the 2 is missing? If east has C J52 west has led 5th highest. C9 instead may be better but your points about declarer’s slip and overly clear defense still apply.



Shantanu RastogiSeptember 26th, 2013 at 12:43 pm

hi Ian

C 9 is better card as 5 can also be from J985, J975, J985 or J875. Another point is – is Diamond Ace a true card or a falsecard from AK ? If you play for diamond honours to split the play of Club Ace is correct on second club as if West has led from 5 card suit he would cash all club winners when in with Diamond King. Ducking helps only when Diamond AK and Club 3 card are with East which looks to me anti percentage.

best regards

Shantanu Rastogi

Shantanu RastogiSeptember 26th, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Hi Iain

I made a mistake. 9 is definitely better as those comibinations that I mention would mean West has led third best.

best regards

Shantanu Rastogi

Iain ClimieSeptember 26th, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Hi Shantanu,

No worries but note the potential for an opening leader with most of the defensive strength to false card with near impunity e.g. Lead the 2 from AKxxx against 1N 3N if you have an outside ace. Regards,


Bobby WolffSeptember 27th, 2013 at 5:36 am

Hi Iain & Shantanu,

You two are talking about what most interests me in high-level bridge, psychology.

When comparing players, never too wise an idea, the player who legally connects with his partner (by playing legitimate specific cards when it is important for partner to know, but instead when partner is basically out of the playing equation, then confuses his opponents by injecting red herrings, is by far the more effective player, assuming the two players in mind have similar technical knowledge. Of the two talents, give me the one who would be a big winner at poker over the one whose bridge technical skill is perhaps a notch higher.

Of course, if it is possible to be at the top or near in both categories, then we have found our bridge player for all seasons. but if only one talent is available make it the tough competitor not the scientific genius.

The above is only my opinion and represents my own experience, but I cannot prove that I am seeing things clear.