Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Nothing erases the past. There is repentance, there is atonement, and there is forgiveness. That is all, but that is enough.

Ted Chiang

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


Today's deal occurred in the Mitchell Open Board-a-Match Teams at the San Francisco Nationals last fall.

The defense to two spades started well, with West leading the diamond queen, overtaken by the king. Rank, East, switched to the club nine, and declarer, Norberto Bocchi gave the matter some thought. When West played the club queen, Bocchi made the fine play of ducking to cut the defenders’ communication.

West continued with the club five, which Bocchi took in dummy to lead a diamond. That gave Rank, East, his first problem: Should he win or duck? Rank decided correctly that his partner’s second club (a high one in context) was suit preference – thus he should not hold the diamond jack. Rank played the diamond ace and next played a third diamond. If declarer had ruffed, West could have overruffed and given Rank a club ruff for down one. Bocchi foiled that plan, however, by pitching the club jack on the third diamond. This play seems counterintuitive, but now the defenders could score only one further trump winner – there was no club ruff and no diamond overruff.

Contract made, a result that swung a full board because East-West at the other table had made plus 90 in two diamonds. Note, though, that as Rank pointed out, he could have defeated the contract with the inspired shift to a trump instead of playing the third diamond. West would have won the ace and given his partner the club ruff; then the third diamond re-promotes the trump queen.

The best plan with relatively limited values is to raise to three clubs directly rather than to let the opponents gauge their degree of fit and combined high cards. By raising at once, you prevent West, for example, from introducing diamonds at a convenient level. Or you may force him to bid at the three-level when he wanted only to bid at the two-level. Support with support if you can.


♠ 10 8 6 4 2
 A Q 8
 J 9
♣ J 8 2
South West North East
1♣ 1
1♠ Pass 2♣ 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


David WarheitDecember 14th, 2013 at 9:09 am

Excuse my ignorance, but what is Rank’s first name?

jim2December 14th, 2013 at 1:37 pm

What are the chances that North would have led a heart against 2N? Very small, I would guess.

Bobby WolffDecember 14th, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Hi David,

Rank’s first name is Peter and he is and has been for a long time, both the official lawyer for the ACBL and a very good and well known bridge player.

Sorry for the omission which should have been in the body of the column.

Bobby WolffDecember 14th, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, I get your drift, since EW seemingly should have, at the least, competed one level higher with 2NT a likely choice. BTW, East’s 2 clubs required West to bid 2 diamonds, a fairly common treatment, allowing a 2 diamond rebid to show something different than just a mere 2 diamond signoff.

Why neither East nor West bid again is unknown, except by not doing so, it provided an interesting defensive hand with several twists.