Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.

Sydney .J. Harris

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


In today's deal from a teams game when West led a traditional fourth-highest club three against three no-trump, it suggested that the clubs would be breaking 4-4. Assuming, then, that there were only going to be three club losers if the defenders gained the lead, one declarer won the third club, crossed to dummy with the spade king, and took the diamond finesse.

This looked like a fair bet — it would bring home the bacon when East had the diamond king, or if there were an even spade break. And had West taken the first diamond, declarer would also have been able to take the heart finesse after testing spades. However, West smoothly ducked the first diamond finesse and took his king when the finesse was repeated. Now there was no entry to the table for a heart finesse.

An alternative line would have been to play the heart ace and queen before using up dummy’s entry. The snag is that the heart queen will surely be allowed to hold the trick. Now when the diamond finesse loses, the defenders may well have five tricks to cash.

However, try the effect, after winning the club ace, of leading the heart queen from hand! What can go wrong? If the queen loses to the king, the hearts can be established, and there is no need for a diamond finesse. And if the heart queen is ducked, crossing to the spade king and playing on diamonds will yield at least nine tricks.

After a reverse, best practice is for responder to use the rebid of two hearts by as natural and forcing for one round, showing five or more hearts. Your bid is consistent with a good hand, but you can pass a minimum call from your partner at his next turn. Your plan will be to stop short of game unless partner guarantees extras.


♠ K 7 2
 J 10 9 6 4
 Q 10 7
♣ 8 2
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


Bill CubleyJune 21st, 2014 at 9:31 pm


Today’s quote applied to the bridge club today. There was a kid’s game this morning. The winners scored 91.15% because they have played before. Three tables of young players were in their first tournament.

A good reason to fear change – bridge is just getting tougher and tougher! 😉

Patrick CheuJune 21st, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Hi Bobby,would you have played this hand differently at pairs? regards~Patrick.

Bobby WolffJune 21st, 2014 at 10:47 pm

Hi Bill,

Just imagine the explosion of bridge in major country’s school curriculum sometime after the incubation period passes. If you think it tough now, what about then, when all kids with numerate talent will have the opportunity to express it in the form of a very worthwhile, fun, and highly exciting competitive game, instead of a tedious occupation where only money, not ego is the goal.

If only our continent would join the brilliant and farsighted educators who have embraced it with open and loving arms, instead of promoting a game which is closer to “high card wins” for all us seniors who are only marking time and not interested in rising to the great heights of an intellectual challenge which is non-pareil with the lessons learned of psychology, problem solving, numerical logic, and legal partnership code language, just to mention a few of its attributes.

Bobby WolffJune 21st, 2014 at 11:07 pm

Hi Patrick,

Your question is a very appropriate one and I will attempt to answer it.

Although almost all pairs (perhaps about 85%+ of them) will be in 3NT since 27 HCP’s are held with all suits stopped and no 8 card major suit available. However the winning line is clever indeed, and playing for a red suit king to be onside instead of feeling sure to make it by leading the queen of hearts first (assuming clubs to be 4-4 which, because of the specific opening lead, looks like they are) I will be satisfied, if not elated, to just score up my contract.

As a sidelight, it is very possible that the defender with the King of hearts may duck it, making it then possible to go in search of overtricks in the pointed suits.

Obviously the game of matchpoints is ripe with luck, making it only, at least to me, a bastardized game of the game I love (either IMPs or rubber bridge), but that doesn’t excuse me or anyone else from playing it (or at least attempting to) in the best way possible.

It is just that some decisions made at matchpoints are just random, and you have hit the main one in the noggin when you ask your pointed question.

Patrick CheuJune 22nd, 2014 at 8:36 am

Hi Bobby,love the quote and the hand,which shows what twists and turns there are in Bridge,with West ducking the diamonds and clubs could be 5-3 either way,despite the perceived 4th highest lead,hopefully not KH in East and five clubs to boot…let’s play the next hand..pard(if he has not gone for a drink at the bar)…:0) Your blog has been enlightening in every respect,many thanks.Best regards~Patrick.