Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 30th, 2014

Variety's the very spice of life,
That gives it all its flavor.

William Cowper

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


Pablo Lambardi of Argentina has been a fixture on his country's international team for a couple of decades — remarkable for one who looks so young! He found an ingenious position in this deal from the finals of a major Pairs game in a recent Australian championship.

He held the South cards and declared one spade after opening one diamond and hearing one heart to his right, doubled by his partner, over which his call of one spade ended the auction. This bid can often be made on a three-card suit, since if opener does not have a heart stop or a rebiddable minor, this may be the least of all evils.

The defenders led four rounds of hearts, dummy pitching a club, with East ruffing in with the spade nine. Lambardi overruffed and led a spade to dummy and a club to the king. West ruffed and played ace and another spade.

As the third spade was led, and won in dummy, what was East to discard? If he pitched a diamond, declarer would come to hand in clubs, ruff a diamond, and take two more club tricks in the ending, since both North and East would be down to just clubs. When East chose instead to throw a club, Lambardi discarded his blocking club ace, and simply set up clubs for one loser.

Making one spade was a near top for him — the field was going down in clubs on the North-South cards, often doubled.

Leading a club (whether you choose the ace or a small one) seems far too committal. Partner's failure to raise clubs suggests he is not loaded for bear in that suit, and there seems no reason to broach diamonds either. My instincts are to lead a heart rather than a spade, since dummy may well be very short of spades and entries. Leading a heart won't do much for declarer that he could not do for himself.


♠ 8 6 2
 Q 8 4
 K 9 4
♣ A 10 9 7
South West North East
1♣ 1♠
2♣ 2 Pass 2♠
All 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


bobby wolffJuly 14th, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Sorry for the gaffe in the column which says it went 1 heart on his right, when it went 1 heart on his left.

Let that be a lesson in forgiving partner for his mistakes since I had infinite time to correct this one, but failed.

However, to pardon my interruption, and to throw in a thought, my choice with the West hand, as a lesser of evils choice, between passing and/or overcalling 1 heart (over our heroes 1 diamond opening), I will suggest making a Michaels cue bid of 2 diamonds, showing both majors (although usually 5-5 instead of 4-4) since partner only needs length in one major and very few high card points to make a high-level major suit game attractive.

Sometimes an unusual choice should be based on upside potential rather than exact definition and this, at least to me, is one of those times.

The fact that it would not work here, doesn’t mean to me that it wasn’t the right action, with the good news being, that it would probably go unpunished.

In any event I think it worth mentioning and I hope most of you agree, even if that choice is only considered, but not chosen.

(innocent player) jim2July 14th, 2014 at 12:47 pm

On the column hand, the fourth heart seems pretty committal.

I think I would have led a small trump. I wonder how that would have worked.

jim2July 14th, 2014 at 1:02 pm

I meant three top hearts and a low trump shift

bobby wolffJuly 14th, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Hi Jim2,

It surely would have produced a set, whether it be down 1 or down 2. I guess the real West was convinced declarer had 4 spades and was hoping his partner had the singleton jack, but even if so, I like your defense better.

Tricks with trumps, both from a declarer and the defense viewpoint is worth studying, since that knowledge gleans many stray tricks over the course of playing bridge frequently. Sometimes tedious, but well worth the time.

Small stuff, but likely worth doing.

Iain ClimieJuly 14th, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Hi Bobby,

I wouldn’t worry about the slip given one or two of my goofs but today’s hand is a rare case where lurking may help. After 1D P 1S P 2S, EW will get a plus score while if south rebids 1N, west could come out of hiding when North will run to clubs, and the firing might start. I’d have bid1H, mind you, so what do I know?

Hi Jim2,

How are the eyes, and have you abandoned a state of innocence?


Iain (guilty until proven otherwise)

Peter PengJuly 14th, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Good Morning!
I found out that in the morning games I am slow and my brain is not engaged.
No doubt statistically I am better in the afternoon and evening.
I make silly errors in the morning, have my wallet easily picked, do not see the dangers around the corner.
There is no way to avoid the analogy with any muscle sport.
Can you suggest something to get the brain exercised before the game…

Iain ClimieJuly 14th, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Hi Peter,

I know what not to do i.e.

a) Work until as late as possible before playing
b) Finish at a more sensible time but then jam in other things before playing e.g. Swim, gym, domestic errands, and then turn up in the same state as a!

Arriving early, clearing the mind of distractions and rechecking the convention card before playing all seem worth a go, or possibly run through some hand patterns in your head. This may avoid my tendency to count diamonds as being 5432 distribution round the table. Hope this helps!


bobby wolffJuly 14th, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Hi Peter,

I can offer nothing better than to embrace Iain’s solution.

He seems to systemically take you through a regimen of what constitutes too much into an isolation of pinpointing relevant bridge exercises which will increase concentrating on bridge related thoughts (counting, numbers, and remembering partnership necessities).

The above probably should be a beginning which will allow you to pick and choose what works best for you in the long run. It will take a little time, but undoubtedly something close to Iain’s well thought out suggestions, will likely work best, especially after a few small or not so small tweaks.

Iain ClimieJuly 15th, 2014 at 8:12 am

Thanks for the kind comments; all I have to do now is take my own (apparently) sensible advice.

bobby wolffJuly 15th, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Hi Iain.

Yes and possibly call it masterthinking. Don’t you think that has a nice ring to it?

bobby wolffJuly 15th, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Hi again,

Or do you not want to take the bait?

Iain ClimieJuly 15th, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Hi Bobby,

Only just spotted the post. “Semi think” is more my style and bad habit. If I play by feel, it often works well; if I think really hard, I hope to get it right but wind up with Jim2’s headache. If I partly think thins through, I confidently play the wrong card after a short pause. Hence it would help if I used the brain a bit better.

For real headaches the morning after though, you can’t beat masterdrinking.


bobby wolffJuly 15th, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Hi Iain,

Your shortcomings are shared by everyone, which, in effect, is a tribute to the game itself.

So many factors, too much psychology, so much variance, too much randomness, different strategies within the partnership, limited code language, luck not being a lady, partners taking time-off and not in concert, opponents improving, not much room at the top, too much expected.

Yes masterdrinking helps but reality always, at least eventually, sets in.

But I, for one, would have trouble surviving without it, since it, along with Judy, is a primary love and safer than flying to somewhere to which, that I know not of.

jim2July 16th, 2014 at 2:54 am

Iain –

These old eyes have seen explosions in Vietnam, nuke rubble at TMI, and 100s of “Look what I did, Daddy!” but I’m scared half to death to read your posts now. They can take only so much, you know!