Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 31st, 2014

As for disappointing them I should not so much mind; but I can't abide to disappoint myself.

Oliver Goldsmith

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


Life can sometimes be very tough at the bridge table. Here, from the U.S. Nationals, is an example of an elegant defense, to no avail. In Standard American, fourthsuit is game forcing by an unpassed hand, so North compromised at his second turn with a heavy raise to two spades, coming to rest in a sensible spot. Declarer won the opening lead of the spade 10 in dummy (an intelligent shot from West, who could see the threat of a crossruff looming) and played a diamond to the king and ace. Now West played the club ace and a second club, and declarer guessed well to put in the jack. East ruffed and returned a low spade, and South rose with the ace, finding yet more bad news.

Declarer next took the diamond queen and ruffed a diamond. At this point, needing four more tricks for his contract, South led the club king, which East had to ruff. Now East made another good play. It would have been easy to exit with a diamond, but South would have ruffed, drawn the last trump, then played a heart to the jack to endplay East. Foreseeing this, East got off lead with the heart queen, ensuring another two tricks for his side for one down. Not surprisingly, though, EastWest lost IMPs on the board for their performance. At the other table NorthSouth were unable to stop so low, and went quietly two down in two no-trump.

The fact that you have a balanced hand with decent defense against clubs should not deter you for a second from competing to two spades. Yes, your LHO rates to have four spades, but your partner knew that when he bid one spade, and he should not have any trouble negotiating trump finesses, if any.


♠ Q 8 2
 A J 10 9 4
 8 5
♣ K J 9
South West North East
1 Dbl. 1♠ 2♣

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


jim2February 14th, 2014 at 12:52 pm

I wonder how 2N went (“quietly”?). Was South the declarer? What was the opening lead?

The reason I ask is that if South declares and plays on clubs, seven tricks looks likely and there are chances for eight or more. Even if North declares and gets a diamond lead, it would seem that entries would drive declarer to choose clubs over hearts to attack once in with a diamond honor. Even if declarer prematurely plays on spades, when West shows out on the second round there is still time to shift to the other black suit.

bobby wolffFebruary 14th, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, down 2 in 2NT looks a little excessive. My guess is that with a diamond lead the defense wound up taking 3 diamond tricks, 2 clubs 1 heart and a final spade trick when declarer became cut off from dummy and didn’t have time to test the spades properly.

Not an adequate job, but sometimes after the diamonds are run and the breaks being what they are, declarer held on to all his spades and went down an extra trick, when in fact he could have made it with 1 diamond trick, 2 clubs, 1 heart and 4 spade tricks or, even more likely, 3 club tricks and only 3 spades.

Even while either playing against or watching supposedly very good declarers playing hands they miss time the hands with entries and judgment and poor results follow. It happens often.

Stan HallukFebruary 15th, 2014 at 12:05 am

your column Feb 14 Vancouver Sun not correct. No way can it work with east having 2 spades. West cannot give him a ruff. Declarer gets the lead after trump A knocked out, gets the next play, pulls trump gets 4 S, 4 H and 2 C. ?????????????????

jim2February 15th, 2014 at 1:20 am

I am NOT Our Host, but the on-line column here lags two weeks from the printed version in the newspapers (due to contractual stuff).

So, post again in two weeks when when the Feb 14 column is posted here!

bobby wolffFebruary 15th, 2014 at 1:22 am

Hi Stan,

The hand above was actually the hand from January 31, 2014 and is two weeks delayed from the syndicate so that the customer newspapers can print originals and on our blog site we get them up 2 weeks later.

If you live in Vancouver you got this hand 2 weeks ago, but if you are really into bridge you can then check with this site, and have the hand thoroughly discussed and write in yourself with any questions you may have.

Thanks for writing.

Sue AdolphsonFebruary 15th, 2014 at 1:34 am

Is there an address where a non-computer user can send a question to Bobby Wolff? A reader of The San Francisco Chronicle wants to know. Thanks.
Sue Adolphson
Sunday Datebook Editor
The San Francisco Chronicle

bobby wolffFebruary 15th, 2014 at 5:46 am

Hi Sue,

There are two email addresses which will get to me: and

The first one will get an answer by regular mail and the second one will be answered on the computer. I, of course prefer the 2nd one, but will gladly get the question answered by mail with the first one, but it may take a little longer.

bobby wolffFebruary 15th, 2014 at 5:55 am

Hi Jim2,

Thanks for your help and constant vigil.

You are appreciated and I promise to continue to look for a cure for TOCM tm.

When playing rubber bridge, try only one riffle and deal 5 cards to each player twice, leaving 3 cards for the last one. The game is not exactly bridge, but the rules are the same and is called Goulash.

jim2February 15th, 2014 at 11:43 am

Goulash is pretty famous; even Victor Mollo had a Goulash hand in one of his Menagerie books. Back at college, all pass-out deals were re-dealt as Goulash hands and I think I may have played about 20 there. The bidding can be interesting but statistics are of little use in the play.