Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

The only way to amuse some people is to slip and fall on an icy pavement.

E. W. Howe

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


Today's deal sees a truly challenging missed opportunity from the 2013 Gold Coast Pairs final.

Against Kelvin Ng’s contract of four hearts (reached after a limited one-heart opening) Barbara Travis led a club. Ng won in hand and led a spade, guessing successfully to put in dummy’s jack when Travis played low. Howard Melbourne won his ace and returned the club queen to dummy’s ace. Ng now unblocked dummy’s diamonds and cashed the spade king to pitch a club from hand, then led a spade to cross back to hand. On this trick Melbourne discarded his club, and declarer ruffed with the heart three, a play he would later regret. Now declarer cashed the diamond ace to discard dummy’s club, and led out a high trump. Travis took her ace and could lead her club to let Melbourne overruff dummy, then exit with a diamond.

Declarer had no choice but to ruff in hand, and was unable to overruff in dummy. Thus he could no longer take the trump finesse. So he lost a third trump trick for down one. To make the contract, declarer had needed to ruff the third spade with his heart seven, leaving himself with the heart three at the critical moment, so he could ruff low in hand and overruff in dummy at trick 11.

An easier line would have been to win the club lead in dummy to cash the diamonds and play a second club at once, planning to pitch dummy’s third club and ruff a club.

There should rarely be any temptation to act over a no-trump opening (whatever the range) in direct seat, with a balanced hand. When you have a good lead against no-trump, bid only on hands with some extra shape. In balancing seat you might protect with two spades if the vulnerability encouraged action (since you cannot guarantee the spade lead in time). But it is certainly not mandatory.


♠ K J 9 8 7
 5 4 2
 K Q
♣ A 3 2
South West North East
1 NT

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


Patrick CheuMarch 12th, 2014 at 10:57 am

Hi Bobby,this hand merely shows the importance of play at trick one,and if we do mistime the play there is still the low pips to consider,in terms of entries for a possible recovery,to finesse for the JH in East hand.Who would have thought the 5H is an entry?Perhaps the tip here should be ‘Watch out for the low trump pips’..regards~Patrick.

bobby wolffMarch 12th, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Hi Patrick,

In our group you have excellent talent, especially about bridge philosophy.

By so having, your comment about “Watch out for the low trump pips” rings loud and clear simply because so often they allow entry to the hand of choice in order to both fulfill close contracts and to also occasionally defeat them, when defending.

That type of contribution is invaluable for both learning various bridge caveats, but also writing about how to remember important bridge concepts.

Perhaps your high-level bridge knowledge has reached the stage where consistency reigns and you are ready, if you haven’t been already, to move up an important notch.

Rising on your peers and then passing them is very common when one takes bridge seriously enough and has the time to concentrate on what is important.

In any event, you contribute mightily to our group and I bet all on this site are aware of it.

Patrick CheuMarch 12th, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Hi Bobby,my very sincere thanks for your kind words and help.Best regards~Patrick.

Herreman RMarch 17th, 2014 at 7:28 pm

Indeed, Patrick,
I like your comments very much.