Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, October 11th, 2013

Everything happens to everybody sooner or later if there is time enough.

George Bernard Shaw

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

*Three-card heart support


In today's deal North's second-round double promised three-card heart support. When North decided to leap to game in hearts, you passed, despite knowing that you would have only a 4-3 trump fit. West begins with two top spades and East follows up the line to indicate a three-card suit. How do you plan to make 10 tricks?

If trumps are 3-3, then 10 tricks will be easy. If the trumps are 5-1 or West has four trumps, then there will be no way to make four hearts. So the crucial case is when East has four trumps, as here.

West, a passed hand, has the spade ace-king plus either the queen or the jack. So this makes East a heavy favorite to hold the club king. You should make a plan that will produce 10 tricks when East has four trumps, three spades, and the club king.

After ruffing the second spade in hand, you should draw two rounds of trump with the king and ace, then ruff another spade in hand with the trump jack. Next, you will play a diamond to dummy’s king, followed by the trump queen, and continue with your remaining diamond winners. What can East do? If he ruffs at any stage, he will have to lead away from the club king. If instead East discards on the diamonds, you will score just one club trick but four diamonds, again bringing you to a total of 10.

Facing a takeout double, I'd simply bid three clubs rather than two hearts, trusting my RHO to hold the suit he has bid. If he is an untrustworthy customer, maybe a two-heart call would expose his psych — my failure to double one heart limits the strength of the heart suit I can hold. I'm not keen on introducing the three-card spade suit if I can avoid it.


♠ J 4 2
 10 9 5 4
 8 2
♣ K 8 4 2
South West North East
1 Dbl. 1
Pass 2 Dbl. 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 ClimieOctober 25th, 2013 at 9:30 am

HI Bobby,

I have a concern here, based on the trumps being 3-3. Suppose you play the column line guarding against East holding 4 hearts but West eventually ruffs a diamond (having started with AKQ8x 9xx xx xxx, say) and leads a club through. Is it possible to cope with both trump splits (2-4 or 3-3) or do you have to decide that the former is more likely?

In more flippant mode, I noticed the grim humour of Seneca’s quote and your comment to Andrew of the game as wily. My local club runs teaching and supervised play sessions for beginners and less experienced players which are naturally relaxed but they do use bidding boxes. I jokingly suggested an extra card as well as the bids, pass, X, XX, stop and alert – a cartoon of Wile-E-Coyote wearing an anguished expression and holding a placard reading “Help”. He does, after all, illustrate Seneca’s maxim beautifully, and the idea caused some amusement. Even at a more serious level, haven’t we all thought that at times when dummy goes down?



Iain ClimieOctober 25th, 2013 at 9:43 am

Sorry, I read the column too quickly. As you say, the play of the third top heart means you cope easily with both possibilities – I thought I must be missing something!

Bobby WolffOctober 25th, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Hi Iain,

Your different philosophical sides indeed make you a very interesting, vibrant man.

While we tend to think alike regarding human philosophy, I particularly enjoy what you entitle, your flippant mode. Your reference to Seneca’s rather morbid comment and to Wile-E-Coyote and dummy coming down, reminded me of declarer then saying immediately “What happened to the hand you promised while you were bidding it?”

I’ve often thought what Shaw has put into words, that if we live long enough, everything under the sun, both good and not so, and if we think about it, will have happened and probably directly to us.

Speaking of George Bernard Shaw, my favorite story involved his relationship with Winston Churchill, a kindred spirit to him, and probably, at least to me, the most important single person in the 20th century, if for no other reason than his incredible leadership during times (WWII) when the “good guys (and gals)” really needed it.

GBS was opening his new play in London and sent “Winnie” a pair of free tickets for opening night (Wednesday) with a message, “I hope you can come and also bring a friend, if you happen to still have one.” to which Winston replied: “I’d love to, except I cannot come on Wednesday, but I’ll be delighted to come on Thursday instead, if it is still playing”.

Both of them enjoyed acerbic exchanges and no one did it better than those two.

And just to emphasize our compatibility you undoubtedly do your comments either in the very late afternoon or fairly early evening, GMT, while right now, where I live, it is 4AM, after which I tend to go straight down hill (and it doesn’t take me long) as “time goes by”.

Iain ClimieOctober 25th, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for the (as usual) over kind comments and I’d heard that quote from Churchill who did get into such rows. The quote about looks vs sobriety may not be totally suitable for delicate tastes, but he had a row with opposing politician Bessie Braddock. “Winston, if you were my husband i would put poison in your coffee.” “Bessie, if you were my wife, I would drink it.”

Always remember that he was half American, though, a point which doubtless enhanced his relationship with FDR.