Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

The greatest obstacle to being a hero is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove oneself a fool.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

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


Sometimes the best stories have a sting in the tail. England international Barry Myers reported this deal, in which he had simultaneously played the hero and the goat.

Myers had experimented at his third turn with two hearts, meaning it as a lead-directing’ club raise; but he found his partner could not take a joke. Against three hearts the defenders led a top spade and shifted to trumps. Myers won the queen in hand and knocked out the club ace. The defenders forced dummy with a second spade, and Myers led the club king, ruffed by West, giving declarer the blueprint to the whole deal. The next spade was ruffed in dummy, and now it was up to declarer to find the legitimate route to bring home six of the seven last tricks.

The winning line is to play ace, king and a third diamond, ruffing with the heart jack, as Myers did. Now you play ace and a second trump, endplaying East with his heart eight to lead clubs into dummy’s tenace. If East ruffs in on an earlier diamond, you can instead overruff and draw trump, then concede a spade.

Very nice — so where’s the catch? As Myers discovered later on, on the third round of spades West had led his jack (squashing his partner’s 10), rather than a low spade. Accordingly, Myers’ remaining spades were now high, and he could simply have ruffed a diamond to hand and drawn trump. His hand would then have been high, and he would have had an overtrick.

Simplest here might be to pass, but you'd like to try to find your side's best minor-suit fit and to stop the opponents from getting together in spades. One route would be to rebid two clubs. Then if either opponent bids two spades, you can bid again with two no-trump to suggest the minors, not an attempt to play there. If you wanted to play two no-trump, you would have let partner play one no-trump.


♠ 8
 10 9 4
 A K J 5
♣ K Q J 9 5
South West North East
1♣ 1 1 NT 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 ClimieJuly 8th, 2014 at 10:38 am

Hi Bobby,

With east’s weak hand in today’s column, and being vulnerable, would you have passed 2C X hoping to escape for -180 or even 280 rather than risk bidding? If South reopens with dbl instead of 2H over 2D then NS would have got the magic 200 at pairs.



Bobby WolffJuly 8th, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, perhaps in bridge, percentages dictate that about one in ten to fifteen hands will result in random action back and forth which never can be predicted to happen, even with top-level participants in the mix.

Today’s hand is one of those, and the result with declarer failing to notice that his spades had become high might be one of them. It only proves the old adage that if a friend (???) asked you to play in a high stake game promising you that there will be a palooka among the four players in the cut around game, then, upon arriving and starting to play, a realization hits you, that it is not clear who that player is, then for sure, you are the one he had in mind.

Such is life in the maturation of trying to move up the ladder in bridge, a slow process, but, from what I’ve heard, well worth it.

In answer to your posed question, I have always been very reluctant to pass out a TO double because of fright (having a weak trump stack). That mindset perhaps exemplifies a too optimistic outlook (not settling for -180), but, after all, sometimes supreme positive thoughts win good results, including in life winning fair lady, and rings a bell. Without which, one never will know.

Yes, South can also be competitive with a TO double instead of a lead director (2H), which also, as you accurately point out, may get the job done. All in all, a supremely fun action hand.