Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, December 12th, 2013

And the giant with his club,
And the dwarf with rage in his breath,
And the elder giants from far,
They are all the children of Death.

Lord Dunsany

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

*Four-card majors and a strong no-trump


When Snow White was discovered by the dwarves, you may be surprised that their first reaction was delight that she would be the eighth player to make up a duplicate teams event.

On the first deal, Snow White partnered Sleepy, who had forgotten what the contract was by the time the auction was complete and selected the spade 10 against what he thought was a four-heart contract.

Grumpy allowed the spade 10 to hold the trick, and Sleepy was just awake enough to continue with his remaining spade. Grumpy played small from dummy, and Snow White deceptively played the king.

Her plan worked. Eventually Grumpy played small from his hand, and Snow White played a third spade. Alas, Grumpy’s pause had distracted Sleepy, and as he dozed off yet again, the club ace fell from his hand.

Grumpy insisted that the card be played, but now when he played off the top clubs, he found Snow White controlled the suit. Grumpy now took his three top diamonds, and next played the heart king, then the nine, cunningly playing low from his own hand. If Sleepy had taken this trick, he would have had one diamond to cash, but would have had to concede the last two tricks. However, all Grumpy’s planning had proved too much for Sleepy, and he allowed the heart nine to win the trick!

With the lead in dummy and only clubs left, Grumpy had to concede the rest to Snow White and go one down.

While a leap to five clubs might be right, heading for the nine-trick game of three no-trump looks more practical to me. You might find partner with a diamond stopper or partial stopper, or West may have no entry to his suit. In five clubs there are just too many potential top losers, plus the risk of defensive ruffs.


♠ J 6 5
 K 9
 Q 10 2
♣ K Q 9 7 3
South West North East
3 Dbl. 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


Shantanu RastogiDecember 29th, 2013 at 7:16 am

Dear Mr Wolff

Its a good lesson for Grumpys of this world. I dont think Sleepy was doing any gamesmanship.

best regards

Shantanu Rastogi

bobby wolffDecember 30th, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Hi Shantanu,

Yes, if Grumpy was attentive he would have won the second spade, discounting an original holding of Q109xx in spades with West (table action) and not allowed Sleepy to jettison his ace of clubs.

You are, of course, right, in no gamesmanship going on, only a great (perhaps unintentional) play by Sleepy, but nevertheless preventable by Grumpy who was too much involved in his own mood to understand what was happening to him.

Yes, as you carefully say, it is a good lesson to every declarer to concentrate on the bridge task at hand and not fall victim to one’s own mood.

Thanks for your worthwhile comment.