Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Ah, the snow-frail maiden!
Somehow truth has missed her,
Left the heart unladen
For its burdened sister.

A.E. (George William Russell)

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


When Jeff Aker and his teammates — Doug Simson, Bryan Maksymetz and Larry Chao — won the Monday Compact Knockout, Bracket I at San Francisco, this deal materially helped their cause. Against four hearts doubled, West led his singleton spade to the king and Aker's ace. A diamond to the queen and ace allowed East to give his partner a spade ruff.

Aker now ruffed West’s continuation of the club ace and led a heart from hand. West correctly split his heart honors, so Aker took the heart 10 with dummy’s king, then finessed in diamonds by leading to the 10. He could next cash the diamond king to pitch dummy’s spade for his fifth trick.

Aker next ruffed his diamond as West pitched a club, then ruffed a club to hand. Now if Aker had led his top spade, West would have ruffed high and returned a trump. That would have left South with a spade loser. Instead, Aker played his low spade. It would not have helped West to ruff high, because Aker would have had only winners left. So West discarded another club, and Aker ruffed the spade in dummy, ruffed a club to hand, and cashed the heart ace for his 10th trick.

Can you spot the defense that East-West missed? East had to return the spade jack rather than a low spade at trick three. Now declarer cannot discard the spade from dummy on the diamond, as it would have been a winner that he would be throwing away.

This hand has the perfect shape for reopening with a double of two hearts. In an ideal world, partner would have a penalty double of two hearts and sit for the takeout double. If (as is equally likely) partner has a weak hand with a suit of his own, he would simply describe his hand by bidding his suit, knowing you will have support for him.


♠ K J 7 6 2
 A J 7 4
♣ K J 9
South West North East
1♠ 2 Pass 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


jim2December 12th, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Since there has been nothing but quiet here today, I decided I might as well relate another happening from Lower Slobbovia. When this deal came up in the Slush Cup (LS “borrows” deals and then duplicates them across the knockout field), I sat East.

I made the same overcall as Our Host reported, but the bidding continued in a far different manner! South made a clearly confident penalty double, pard passed, and North passed with far, far too much contentment for my taste. In any other country, a redouble now would have begged partner for rescue. In LS, however, redoubles are bravura, not SOS.

So I bid three clubs, planning to try three diamonds next.

South passed, obviously wanting to give his partner the satisfaction of doubling three clubs. My partner prevented that by bidding five (!!!) clubs. Concealing his disappointment with a chortle of delight, North doubled, and there the bidding mercilessly ended.

South started with the AH and continued with a low heart. I tried the ten and ruffed away North’s king.

I needed at least eight more tricks, but where in the slush was I going to get them?!

Eventually, I tried the KS, won by South with the ace. After some pause for thought, South realized one pitch would not help me, and continued with a third heart.

I won the queen, pitching a diamond, then ruffed the fourth heart. North squirmed a bit before parting with the spade nine. I concluded the diamond honors must be split, as South would not break that suit and North would not pitch from his own holding.

Leading the jack of spades fetched the queen and ten spot as I ruffed on the board, setting up my seven high suit (that I would never be able to cash). A small club to my now-bare king confirmed the trump situation and I cashed the AD and exited with a small one.

South thriftily inserted the ten but that meant two endplays for North, who – upon winning the bare diamond queen – was down to the Q864 of trump, while the board had A107 and a diamond. That meant only one more trick for the defense and minus 500 for us.

Thankfully, our teammates did bid game and make it, and – in keeping with the Season – I forbore making a Scrooge thrift remark to South.

Bobby WolffDecember 12th, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Hi Jim2,

Since no one I know can challenge either your imagination nor your geography, I’ll ask you a question instead.

Wasn’t a girl named Lena from your home country of Lower Slobbovia?
And, if so, wasn’t her following nickname, representative of an animal who always had a smile on her face, or at least, it appeared to look like one.

If she happened to play bridge, and it certainly appears that your country takes that game seriously, her aggressive nature might make it tough for her opponents. Since your partner did jump to game when you apparently were only scrambling to higher ground, is it possible she was your partner?

And please forgive me, if you think I may be trying to break your cover, by my somewhat intimate query. After all, man cannot survive with bread alone.

Perhaps Lena has changed her name, but if you happen to have a picture of her and it could be scanned, I would immediately recognize her innate beauty.

Congratulations on your result reported. The auction might have gone differently at other tables, but that is what makes bridge so exciting.

jim2December 12th, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Sadly, Lena retired from tournament bridge when they implemented bidding screens. In fact, there are rumors to the effect that she was the REASON for them.