Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

When two evil guys fight in a duel,
the worst of both will be the winner.

Toba Beta

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


Today's deal comes from a match between the duplicate and rubber bridge players at the Dyspeptics Club. Each group's members, of course, consider themselves to be the real experts, while the other group plays a corrupt version of the game with no real skill element. Thus there was considerably more at stake than the bottles of champagne that were riding on the outcome.

In the first half of the match the following deal came up, and the duplicate player at the helm considered himself unlucky to go down. In three no-trump he won the opening spade lead and played off the diamond ace from his hand, planning to cross to dummy and make a second diamond play to try to keep East off lead. Alas for him, West dropped the diamond jack under the king, a performance that would have been considerably more impressive, had he not scrabbled for the card as it came out of his hand as if he had played it accidentally. After the unblock, declarer was doomed.

In the other room South won the first spade and crossed to dummy with a club to run the diamond seven immediately to West. That was the end of the defense. Had East covered, declarer would have won the trick in hand, then repeated the performance by going back to the board and leading the diamond eight. The defenders would have been helpless to prevent the establishment of the diamonds, while East, the danger hand, was kept off lead.

The choice here is to raise to two hearts or to rebid one no-trump. I always try to avoid the rebid at no-trump with two small in a side-suit, and this is no exception. Yes, you would prefer four trumps for the raise, but when you offer a ruffing value, that makes up for the deficiency.


♠ 5 2
 A 7 3
 10 8 7 3 2
♣ A K Q
South West North East
1 Pass 1 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


Iain ClimieJune 18th, 2014 at 11:32 am

Hi Bobby,

Two quick questions. Firstly, where did the Dyspeptics’ club originate? Second, is it better to lead the D10 not 8 as a small extra chance against west holding singleton 9 (or even Q if east does something silly)? This gives 9 tricks via 1S, 2H, 3D and 3C in such a case while retaining the possibility of safely losing a diamond to west when they are 3-2.



Bobby WolffJune 18th, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Hi Iain,

Although I haven’t done the math involved (1-4 breaks, including a singleton honor with West), a fear, countering your accurate mention of the singleton nine with West, but how about a singleton honor with East, although with West having the spade length, that possibility is remote.

Suffice it to say that studying bridge probabilities is similar to living in a field of poisoned flowers without the availability of windmills to protect against weather influences. In other words, hardly worth the effort except in general, especially as Jim2 may say, “Where is the aspirin when I need it?”

The Dyspeptic club is meant to be a fictional, but active bridge club of mostly stuffed shirts, (probably either in London or New York City) where SJ Simon and Victor Mollo type bridge characters thrive, influence, and reduce bridge expertise to a minimum (with, of course, the exception of the Hideous Hog), but not without, at least, some predictable flair.

Iain ClimieJune 18th, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for that, and the singleton honour with east crept into my head shortly after the post. True, diamonds are more likely to be 4-1 with east holding length than west, but there are two 4-1 cases with honours vs one singleton 9. If I’d thought of the D10 at the table, I suspect the ominous creak of TOCM ‘s heavy footfall would sound in the darkness behind me.


jim2June 18th, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Then come the cackles. I know, having heard them so, so many times!


Bobby WolffJune 18th, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Hi Iain & Jim2,

Vrroom, Ha-ha, yikes, oh no, frick, frack,
doooooms, ba rah, eek, NOooooo, Myyyyyy,


MirceaJune 19th, 2014 at 9:22 am

You all are so funny!

To protect my fewer and fewer still working neurons in the brain when dealing with suit combination, I use a freeware called SuitPlay. It calculates the exact probabilities of divisions of a suit and recommends lines of play based on the number of tricks required allowing to set various apriori parameters like number of entries to dummy in advance. A worthwhile tool to have (IMO)

Details at:

Iain ClimieJune 19th, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Thanks Mircea, I’ll definitely have a look at this. Iain

Bobby WolffJune 19th, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Hi Mircea,

While your new found toy seems to help a little, it would be a much larger advantage if you trained your calculator to look into the opponents hands so that you saw reality instead of just percentage chances.

Toys can help some, but one’s with eyes and communication skills will help much more.

Please remember you heard it here first.

Perhaps after Iain inspects it, he will let all of us know what to do and how to go about it.