Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, November 29th, 2013

The human mind is our fundamental resource.

John F. Kennedy

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

*6-9 points, four trumps


Today’s deal comes from a regional Swiss at the San Francisco Nationals. As they came back to score up, West was grumbling that his opponents had caught a lucky break by staying out of a game that could not be made because of a bad trump break. Fortunately, he had not taken into account the resourcefulness of his teammates – Josh Donn and Roger Lee.

They had bid their way to four hearts after Donn had produced a Bergen raise of one heart to three clubs, showing a heart raise of four or more cards, with less than limit-raise values.

West led a helpful club jack, and Lee won and led a diamond up. West correctly took the diamond ace and exited with a diamond. (Yes, a passive club makes declarer’s task far harder, but he can still just about survive.)

Lee took the diamond king, pitching a spade from hand, and led a heart from dummy. East’s discard revealed the bad trump split, and Lee put up the heart king, taken by West with the ace. A second club went to Lee’s ace, and he followed with a club ruff, diamond ruff, the spade king and a spade to the ace.

In the four-card ending, Lee ruffed a diamond to hand, while West helplessly followed suit, then exited with his losing spade. Not only did West have to ruff her partner’s winner, but she then had to lead into declarer’s heart tenace at trick 12. Contract made!

When your opponents make a negative double of your partner at a low level, there is no need to panic even if you have no support. Simply pass and await developments. If you bid, you do not promise support, but you will be suggesting better overall values, or a more robust suit.


♠ J 10 7 4
 Q 10 8 6
♣ K 8 6 3 2
South West North East
1 1 Dbl.

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 ClimieDecember 13th, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Hi Bobby,

Funny how west would have fared better with H AJ9 and a spade more at least if he unblocked the SQ. Bad breaks like the one today at least don’t give you too many options. I thought the bidding was pushy but LTC works a treat on South’s hand, at lest given the mixture of luck that he got .



Bobby WolffDecember 14th, 2013 at 12:55 am

Hi Iain,

Many bridge results are determined by luck, making a non-percentage game or slam or, of course the opposite.

Leaving us fortunate that some hands require skill such as unblocking and careful discarding to not being vulnerable to losing end situations.

The more skill necessary the better say I, unless of course, I am playing against someone more skillful.