Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Even the death of friends will inspire us as much as their lives.

Henry David Thoreau

South North
Neither ♠ A 7 4 3
 A Q
 A 7 6 5 2
♣ Q 4
West East
♠ Q 10 5
 7 5 3
 K Q
♣ K 7 6 5 2
♠ J 9 8 2
 9 8
 J 10 9
♣ A 9 8 3
♠ K 6
 K J 10 6 4 2
 8 4 3
♣ J 10
South West North East
2 Pass 4 All pass


I was saddened to hear of the death of Bobby Richman, an American who moved to Australia and represented that country internationally for over two decades. When you look at all four hands here, you may wonder how Richman could make four hearts — and indeed, the solution is extremely elegant.

Although declarer can eventually set up the diamonds, the defenders will by then have taken two diamonds and two clubs. But after West led a low trump, Richman won the ace, overtook the trump queen with the king, and played three more rounds of trumps, throwing two clubs and a diamond from the dummy and squeezing East.

East could afford two small clubs. But on the next trump he could not throw a spade, or declarer would establish a long spade in dummy with a spade ruff — having the diamond ace as the entry to it. Nor could he discard a diamond, or declarer would set up that suit for one loser. East therefore bared the club ace. No harm appears to have been done yet, but Richman now ducked a diamond, West winning and switching to a club to East’s ace.

That player had no club to return, so shifted to a spade. Declarer won with the king and continued with ace and another diamond, setting up that suit. It was East who won the trick, perforce. With no club left, he had to play a spade to the ace, and declarer now discarded his remaining club on the long diamond.

This one looks relatively simple to me — which is not always a good sign… With decent support in context, but a minimum in high-cards, simply raise to three spades and let partner decide what he wants to do. You have no reason not to let partner have a say after this point. And, just for the record, two spades is usually played as forcing for one round, if not necessarily to game.


♠ K 6
 K J 10 6 4 2
 8 4 3
♣ J 10
South West North East
2 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


Iain ClimieDecember 21st, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Hi Bobby,

Nicely done, but was there a case for a more attacking lead (Cx or DK)? I think both kill the contract but can a reasonable case be made for avoiding the passive trump? North could be pre-empting, of course, but equally he may just have a raise where the 2N enquiry doesn’t seem worth the fuss, as he is fairly confident opposite a minimum. As trumps are unlikely to hold bad news for declarer (unless dummy has Axx and partner singleton K) would you have led something different?



Bobby WolffDecember 21st, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Hi Iain,

You are not only right as rain or in spades, but right in theory and practice against this type of bidding to 4 hearts.

To me, a passive lead such as a trump, on this type of bidding, is only a chance to see dummy and then learn (sometimes not immediately) what other lead could have defeated it.

When in doubt, never lead a trump, instead of the old saw meaning opposite. Go down fighting with your boots on, is clearly, at least to me, the right way. However when a trump lead gets it done, I do not want to be sued.

None of the above takes away from Bobby Richmond’s magnificent declarer’s play, which, of course, required a little luck, but credit him, an awfully nice man, with finding the way.

Where there is a will, there is often one benefit, a way, and one other, relatives.