Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered.

Ernst Schumacher

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



At the end of the 1999 Cavendish, David Berkowitz and Larry Cohen were in serious contention for major honors, along with Michel Abecassis and Jean-Christophe Quantin. This board decided the minor placings.

With eight top tricks in three no-trump, South, it seems, would be able to find a ninth trick somewhere, especially given that West’s natural lead is the spade 10 or a club.

When Cohen led the spade 10 to the jack and queen, ducked, Berkowitz did well to find the heart shift. Abecassis won and cashed three diamonds ending in dummy (West pitching a club, East a spade), leaving a diamond entry to dummy, then led the heart 10 to Berkowitz’s jack.

East exited with the club queen, covered by the king and ducked by Cohen, to keep declarer from being able to cash his nine winners. If Cohen wins and clears clubs, that is declarer’s ninth trick.

At this point Abecassis cashed his diamond winners in hand (Cohen throwing hearts) and led a club, but Cohen claimed the rest with three club winners. South needed instead to cash the spade ace, then lead his low diamond to dummy to achieve a four-card ending in which he has cut himself off from his fifth diamond, but gets back two tricks by squeezing West. If Cohen pitches a heart, dummy’s suit comes in, but if West instead discards a club, declarer exits with a club and collects two heart winners in the end on West’s forced play at trick 12.

When your partner as opener produces delayed support facing a hand that has shown minimum responding values, he guarantees a good hand and three trumps — say 15-17 in high cards. So your double fit means you have an easy jump to four hearts.


♠ J
 K 10 9 6 2
 A 7 6 3
♣ 10 9 2
South West North East
1 Pass
1 Pass 1♠ Pass
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 ClimieJanuary 4th, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Hi Bobby,

Did south miss a subtle inference here? If west held CAQJxx he might have led one while east could well have switched to a club at trick 2 with Cxx(x). When west throws a club on the 3rd diamond, it strongly suggests east has Qx or Jx in the suit. If so, declarer can play clubs himself.

Any thoughts, apart from hindsight being all too easy?

Regards and Happy New year,


Howard Bigot-JohnsonJanuary 4th, 2014 at 1:15 pm

HBJ : Hi there again.
Well my observation is this :
When with the Ace of hearts at trick 2. King and queen of diamonds are played with dummy’s ace overtaking.
King of hearts is cashed at trick five pitching a spade , followed by the 10 of hearts to East’s jack. But if East then switches to the club queen with declarer’s King allowed to win then THE NINE TRICKS ARE SURELY THERE ……5D, 2H, 1S, 1C ?

Iain ClimieJanuary 4th, 2014 at 2:41 pm


After the CQ is played on the line you suggest, haven’t the defence got 1S in the bag, 1H plus 2C and the HQ for West to cash? The column line differs as the HK hasn’t been cashed yet and it is difficult to unravel as 3 rds diamonds were played – perhaps a mistake?



Bobby WolffJanuary 4th, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Hi Iain & HBJ,

You two have covered what needs to be said.

Real hands like these have their purpose since each play made, by both declarer and the defense, (example Abecassis’, declarer play of the 10 of hearts, without cashing the king) are designed to seek some help from the opponents. While the above represents the essence of the cat and mouse game often played, every hand is different, but the overall logic is the same. In 3NT getting to nine before the opponents reach five and for the defense the opposite.

Herreman RJanuary 20th, 2014 at 4:56 pm

A thing of Beauty.