Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 14th, 2013

Inspiration is one thing and you can't control it, but hard work is what keeps the ship moving. Good luck means, work hard. Keep up the good work.

Kevin Eubanks

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


Today's deal saw North and South conduct an intelligent auction to the best game. As a passed hand South was able to bid a natural and nonforcing two clubs in response to the one-spade opening. (The partnership did not play Drury — whereby the call would show a spade fit and a maximum pass.) Thereafter both players bid naturally, and North (who had already denied four hearts) eventually felt able to raise hearts, assuming his partner would not introduce a four-card suit at his second turn and should thus hold a 5-6 distribution.

Against four hearts the defenders did well to lead and continue diamonds. South ruffed the third round and correctly played on clubs before drawing trump. He led to the club ace and back to his king as East sensibly discarded a spade. Now came the heart ace, dropping West’s nine, followed by a club ruff with the heart king, East discarding another spade.

Declarer next played ace, king and a third spade, ruffing low in hand, and had now taken eight of the first 10 tricks. He was down to the Q-7 of trumps and one club, while dummy had two spades and the trump eight. It looked to declarer as if East was down to just trumps, so he led his last club and ruffed with dummy’s heart eight. East overruffed and returned his low trump, but declarer could put in the heart seven with some confidence and claim the last two tricks.

Just for the record, a club shift at trick three sets the game.

You have a hand with some slam potential, but the overcall has somewhat dampened your ardor. Nonetheless, jump to three spades to set up a force and hope that your partner can cue-bid in support of your spades. If not, settle for game.


♠ A K 8 7 3
 K 8 6
 10 7 2
♣ A 7
South West North East
1 NT 2

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 28th, 2013 at 10:34 am

Hi Bobby,

Just out of interest, would you have opened the South hand in today’s play problem? If so, would you have preferred 1C or 1H, assuming you don’t have a specialised bid to show a moderate 2 suiter?

Also, you note that East discarded a spade on the 2nd club – but what if he ruffs instead and returns a small trump at T6? The defence now have 3 tricks and West holding the 9 means that South can’t win trick 6 cheaply. If he draws trumps, there is a club to lose; if tries to ruff a club then he is either over-ruffed or has to promote a trick for East’s Jack. Credit to West here for holding the right singleton – a bit like your comment on the George Burns hand the other week.



Patrick CheuSeptember 28th, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Hi Iain, your analysis is spot on, the Nine of Hearts has a story to tell…As regards opening or not, think one heart would be the preferred bid as one does not mind a heart lead and in a lively auction the heart suit would not be lost..all said,there is a case for passing as with shape there will be shape all round and later we may enter with Michaels or cue to show such distrib. maybe.Another thought,if we do open with the south hand,would we be happy to play in a slam if pard put us in one!? Would be interesting to hear what our host thinks..regards~Patrick.

jim2September 28th, 2013 at 6:45 pm

I do not disagree with Our Host that a trick three club shift will allow the defense to prevail. I would note, however, that declarer can give the defense a couple opportunities to fail.

For example, I presume East is the one leading the club and West splits, with AC winning. Declarer plays the 7C as in the column and East is presumed to pitch a spade (also as in the column). Declarer wins and advances the 10C.

If West covers, dummy ruffs and I think declarer makes it no matter what East does. If West ducks, declarer can pitch the last diamond and, if East fails to ruff with the good trump trick, declarer again prevails. If East does ruff, a diamond return is fatal for the defense.

Patrick CheuSeptember 28th, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Hi Jim, if on the 10C, West does not cover,and you pitch diamond from dummy,East ruffs,instead of a diamond return,East again returns a low trump playing for West to hold 9H…are we not back to Iain’s comment…I stand to be corrected~regards~Patrick.(West still holds the QC).

Patrick CheuSeptember 28th, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Hi Jim, I understand that your play gives East a chance to go wrong,with a diamond(ruff and disc) or JH return after ruffing the 10C,which transposes into the main line commentary,and declarer will prevail.Think a trump is more likely from East..given the play to date.Regards~Patrick.

Iain ClimieSeptember 28th, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Hi folks,

I suspect we may have a slight delay as Bobby is in Bali at the moment, based on Judy’s blog. The Venice cup really tight between England and USA2 – well worth following.


jim2September 28th, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Patrick Cheu –

I doubt East would ever consider returning either red suit when a spade return seems so safe, let alone the J/10H. I put that in more for completeness than anything else.

Bobby WolffSeptember 30th, 2013 at 12:27 am

Hi Iain, Patrick and Jim2,

No I am not in Bali, although I played in the Senior Trials (several months ago) and did not come close to qualifying.

Yes, to open or not open South’s 13 cards is a matter of style. Mine is to bid, and the earlier the better, although the 0-5-2-6 hand is awkward to open, but IMO doesn’t get easier to bid, by first passing.

I would probably open 1 heart with the idea of rebidding clubs, if the auction did not get contested. If it turns out to be a misfit, then opening is probably death, but since the game of bridge, particularly the high-level kind, can take strange twists but sometimes we come out unscathed and at other times pay off large numbers.

There is nothing right or wrong in either opening or not, but the important thing is to be consistent so that partner will know your tendencies, and sometimes even cater to them.

The three of you have, as usual, analyzed the play well and, sometimes like choices in the bidding, rely on experience more than talent. especially with one’s knowledge of his then opponents, together with one’s partner, and as is oft the case, fight fiercely for survival.

To quote (or almost), one has to deal with victory and defeat and treat those two imposters just the same, meaning whatever happens on this hand, and according to the column, something good happened, after the shouting and the tumult dies, be prepared to then devote full attention to the next hand.

After watching the WC, through the eyes of the magnificent BBO, winners seem to appear
at the end, not based on any one hand (although, of course, one hand can decide it), but to the whole body of hands played and, in the long run, put your money on experience and long beards, rather than daring do and fuzzy cheeks.

Winners in bridge have usually been there, done that, even if they have to concede something in quick wit, talent and risk to enthusiastic youngsters. Play every hand with intensity and accept lady luck as she winks at you.

I was out of town last week, so I am just catching up and am late in thanking all of you for your ever faithful comments.