Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 24th, 2014

Journalists say a thing that they know isn't true, in the hope that if they keep on saying it long enough, it will be true.

Arnold Bennett

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


Today's problem comes from a relatively new bridge book, Patrick Jourdain's "Problem Corner," published by Master Point Press, and is typical of the author's challenging but fair tests of your skill. The author was for many years the editor of the International Bridge Press Association, the bridge journalist's bible, since it publishes news and hands from all around the world. Bridge magazines are becoming thinner and thinner these days, but you can read a selection of scintillating deals here.

If you want to set yourself a realistic test, consider how South should play four hearts here, but first cover up the East and West cards. West, who has overcalled one spade, cashes the club ace at trick one and then switches to a low diamond. What are the dangers, and how can you short-circuit them?

The danger is that West has led a singleton club ace and is planning to win the first trump and put his partner on lead with a second diamond in order to obtain his club ruff.

The only entry to the East hand rates to be in diamonds. How can you prevent him from coming on lead? The secret is that you should win the diamond lead at once and play the spade king, discarding a diamond from hand when East is unable to cover. This elegant maneuver, aptly named the Scissors Coup, cuts the defenders’ communications.

Despite your fine intermediates, this hand does not seem worth a force to game. The choice is a raise to three clubs, an eclectic raise to three hearts, or the simple invitational call of two no-trump. This last option seems like the most flexible route to go.


♠ K 10 7 3
 J 10
 A J 2
♣ J 9 4 3
South West North East
Pass 1 Pass
1♠ 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


David WarheitFebruary 7th, 2014 at 10:41 am

EW can make 4S! Despite a 4-0 spade break!! All W would have to do is guess the location of the DJ. I’m not sure where all the blame lies, but I find W’s overcall of 1S the main culprit. His hand is much too strong for a simple one-level overcall. How do you think the bidding should have gone?

Shantanu RastogiFebruary 7th, 2014 at 11:24 am

Hi David

Not only diamonds West would have to play spade suit for one loser else he can lose two spades, a heart and a diamond.

best regards

Shantanu Rastogi

Iain ClimieFebruary 7th, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Hi Folks,

There is also a possible trump promotion against 4S unless West ducks the first heart. Yet even if West were playing strong jump overcalls, or doubles then bids spades, how keen would east be to push on?


bobby wolffFebruary 7th, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Hi David, Shantanu and Iain,

Between you three wise men you have:

1. Stated the upside (for EW), the goal, and what it requires to succeed.

2. Mentioned the poisoned flowers on the way, the difficulty in wending EW’s way along the Yellow Brick Road, and the perfection needed for victory.

3. Alluded to the wicked witches of timing the play and how to realistically suggest what EW need do to arrive at the Emerald City of bridge contracts.

The wizard may allude to the beauty of his empire (bridge) of what it took in the play to score up 4 hearts against a challenging defense, Add a possible down 1 to both shaky games, one, 4 spades, no doubt doubled, and EW may lose 6 IMPs (-200 and -50) or instead gain either +1210 (+790 and +420) 15 IMPs or +740 (+790 and -50) 12 IMPs or +220 (-200 and +420) 6 IMPs.

No doubt a thorny task for particularly EW to score up 4 spades doubled. You show me a way to intelligently get there and I will show you a cockeyed optimist. OTOH it also may show why bridge is considered a bidder’s game
especially, when one considers the rewards for making difficult contracts.

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 7th, 2014 at 5:11 pm


No use denying you are a Frank Baum fan!! Hard to believe The Wizard came to the fore well over a hundred years ago.

See ‘ya at breakfast!


bobby wolffFebruary 7th, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Hi Judy,

And also I, not denying crying, so many years ago, when Frank Morgan, instead of a real wizard, jumped out of the drapes disclosing the ruse.

Later when bridge got on my agenda I soon learned that in order to play it competitively, one needed brains (scarecrow), heart (tin woodsman) and courage (cowardly lion). Also staying away from the poisoned flowers and the wicked witches (TOCM) was also required.

By doing so it would be balm to one’s wounds.