Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.


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


Over the course of the last few years, money tournaments, in particular Invitational Pairs and Auction Pairs, seem to have sprung up all over the world. P.G. Eliassen of Sweden was playing in one of these events when he declared a deceptively simple hand, which nonetheless illustrates a useful theme.

Against five diamonds, West led a spade to the ace, and East switched to a heart, which Eliassen won in hand. The important message to bear in mind on a hand like this is that when things appear straightforward, you should plan for unfriendly distribution, then see what can be done about it. Here it was easy to work out that if clubs were splitting, there would not be too many problems, but if anyone was going to be short, it would be East. Eliassen carefully did not draw any trump, but instead led the club ace, then a club toward his king. If both opponents had followed, he would simply have given up a club and claimed. As it was, when East showed out, declarer won the club king and gave up a club. He could win the return and still have two entries to dummy to ruff out the clubs and draw the trump.

The key to the hand was not drawing even one round of trump. If you release the diamond ace, you allow East to score his jack of trump on the fourth round of clubs, and if you lead to dummy’s diamond honors, you take out a critical entry for establishing the clubs. East could have defeated the game by ruffing in on the second club, (or even by pitching a heart) but once he pitched a spade declarer saw his chance and took it.

Yes, you have nice-fitting cards in partner's suits, and yes, you have a little extra in high cards. But there is still no need to do more than bid two spades. With the best will in the world your hand still adds up to a 10-count with a doubleton trump support. Passing two diamonds or raising to three diamonds would be wrong — don't ever raise the second suit with only three trumps if you can avoid it.


♠ J 2
 7 5 4
 K Q 4
♣ A 8 7 5 2
South West North East
1♠ 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


jim2November 30th, 2013 at 1:15 pm

The sentence added at the end addresses well your readers’ comments of two weeks ago.

Michael BeyroutiNovember 30th, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Right on, Jim2.
It would have been so much easier and more interesting to have that conversation today – especially your analysis. And it would have been so much easier on our host!

bobby wolffNovember 30th, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Hi Jim2 and Michael,

In most competitions it takes a team, working together, to achieve desired results. You two, being superior analysts, do your jobs well and without your help the column suffers.

Thanks for that, and even more importantly, your consistent participation adds greatly to our blog site. I will join all of our readers in expressing our appreciation.

warren HickmanDecember 22nd, 2013 at 8:28 pm

A friend gave me this column and said he thought the hand goes down if East trumps the club return towards the king. I agree. Why would East hold up? Or are we missing something?