Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 5th, 2014

Surrender is essentially an operation by means of which we set about explaining instead of acting.

Charles Peguy

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


Sometimes declarer can predict that the defenders will prevent him from achieving his goal if he follows a direct route to goal. If so, he will need to take avoidance measures to sidestep the killing defense. See if you can match today's declarer, who found a neat way to come out victorious.

When you play four hearts on a top-club lead, you can identify two inevitable spade losers and two likely diamond losers if the defenders can get their act together. Even if spades split 3-3, so long as East wins an early spade and leads a high diamond through you, he may be able to arrange to get in again in spades, whereupon a second diamond play will spell defeat. Conversely, if East has the diamond ace, West must play diamonds through dummy twice.

One possibility is to win the first club and lead a low spade from dummy, hoping that East doesn’t rise with an honor or that he continues the attack on clubs, giving you an important tempo.

But a line that does not rely on defensive error, so long as spades are 3-3 and West has the diamond ace, is to duck the first trick. West can do no better than continue the attack on clubs, and you win, pitching a spade. Then you draw trump, give up a spade, and still have control of diamonds. So you have time to set up the spades to discard your slow diamond loser.

Your partner has shown extra values with precisely four spades, since with five or more spades he would have responded in the suit. You could head for the 4-3 spade fit by bidding two spades, but my preference is to emphasize the clubs. You might decide to compete to three spades if the opponents bid up to three hearts. With even the spade 10 instead of the five, I might be tempted to go the other way.


♠ Q 8 5
 7 4
 A J 9
♣ K Q J 9 4
South West North East
1♣ 1 Dbl. 2
Pass Pass Dbl. 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


Mircea Giurgeu, Kitchener ONJuly 19th, 2014 at 10:48 am

Hi Bobby,

Thank you for your kind words and encouragements yesterday, they mean a lot to an aspiring (intermediate+) enthusiast who is fascinated by the game but unfortunately is at a point in his life where bridge cannot be placed at the top of the list of his priorities and who can only hope that in the not so distant future retirement will provide the much needed break from the rat race that some (most?) of us allow ourselves to be dragged into. I can only hope alongside, I’m sure, many others.

Good luck at the Nationals. I wish I was there. Have attended them only once, a few years ago when held within driving distance for me, in Toronto. It was one of the nicest bridge experience for me and my partner. We beat Rodwell in a knock-out …. Jeff – his brother. Nevertheless, you should have seen our faces when we learned about who are we playing against upon the initial check of their convention cards. I’m sure Zia would love to play against us. He once said in an interview that one of the things he enjoys the most at the table is seeing his opponents dread him. I can only hope.

I think it was Iain (apologies if otherwise) who mentioned it here that hands presented in the main column are follow-ups to a printed edition two weeks in advance. Although I enjoy reading the solution I would certainly like the challenge of finding it even better. So, where can I see these hands in their initial problem format?

I’m an incurable bridge book collector in the hopes that some day i will find the time to read them all. I was a bit surprised to find that you have published only one so far. I hope I’m wrong, but if not, we all here should try to convince you to change that. Your knowledge and wisdom of the game have long placed you along the greatest of the great. No more needs to be said. Please consider sharing, especially your wisdom. I can only hope.

Herreman BobJuly 19th, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Good Luck at the Nationals !

Bobby WolffJuly 19th, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Hi Mircea,

My friends seem to picture me accurately, largely unemotional, somewhat pedantic, and, if anything, too committed to our wonderful game.

I can only reply that since bridge has been off-the-charts kind to me, in allowing me to enjoy every day of my long life (at least up to now) thinking, writing, playing and all times enjoying it to the fullest, I owe it a sincere effort to be responsible. BTW, my current worry is that, sometime after I check-out (in what I trust and hope is not very soon or worse, imminent), unless bridge is taught in our primary schools in a regular curriculum it will, at least at the high-level, eventually be history in our hemisphere.

Catering to only the “high card wins” set which the ACBL seems to be directing its attention will NOT get it done, the same thought process which pertains to all forms of sports, including tennis and golf, which without the electricity generated from the elite, all competitive activities takes on a sort of “who cares” personality. However, unless the bridge professionals themselves improve their “give back to the game mentality” and contribute mightily, which sometime means pro bono
and without conditions attached, it will become questionable whether our special great game deserves saving.

I have much consternation for your plight and only wish that the “rat race’ hurries by to allow you to experience the glow which bridge at a certain level will always generate. The bridge world, “high level” especially, will be waiting to welcome you and your enthusiastic and very pleasing personality to their group.

Again thanks for your kind words, and though writing a book worth reading is sometimes a monumental task, requiring more than I can offer at this time, I will hope to be able to get away with only being a nudge to “remember and always be responsible to the future loving care and nurture” which allows me to be invited to the celebration.

Regarding the two weeks delayed which the AOB website features it is the result of my syndicated bridge column which appears in over 100 newspapers daily (worldwide) and is required to be two weeks delayed on our website, so that it doesn’t interfere with what our wonderful client newspapers pay for.

Again, thanks for your comments and good luck to you when time allows you to lace up your competitive boots and give the Rodwells and Zias all they can handle.

Bobby WolffJuly 19th, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Hi Bob H,

Thanks for your well wishes. This tournament is special to me since it, at least as far as my 60+ year, going to bridge Nationals is concerned, will represent one of my last hurrahs. I need to limit my mistakes so that I will not cringe later thinking about my lost opportunities.

I, while not expecting miracles, am especially looking forward to the Spingold which represents my participation in over 50 of them. Most of them I lost, but will remember many hands, some good, others bad, which always will be part of my genre.

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 19th, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Good Morning Bob H,

I am Bobby’s better half (though obviously not at the bridge table) and wanted to expound upon his modest generalization. Since we play twice a week at our marvelous local bridge club, The Las Vegas Bridge World (and have been doing so for the last eight years), you cannot imagine my unique position .. being seated opposite one of the world’s greatest (not only in playing competition, but administration as well).

And, just for the record, though he casually mentions his Spingold triumphs, he omitted to add that he won TEN of the 50. I admit to not being numerate .. but still sounds like 20% to me. Add that to his eleven world championships (in five different categories) plus, plus, plus — and that makes one stand at attention .. though he is very modest!

I kibitzed him last night playing with Dan Morse in the von Zedtwitz pairs and he never ceases to amaze me. The real ‘kicker’ is that he will be celebrating his 82nd birthday in just three months .. and hasn’t lost a step!

Iain ClimieJuly 19th, 2014 at 7:37 pm

Hi Mircea,

I can’t take credit for the info on the earlier issue of the columns – that was Jim2 the other week. I would like to mention one thing about your post,m though.

I used to play very enthusiastically, with some success in British tournaments, but lost enthusiasm around 1985-6 and stopped playing for 25 years. I came back to the game in 2011 as I work away from home a lot and it is cheaper, healtier, more sociable and mor ementally stimulating to spend the evenings playing bridge than to wind up in a pub. I was , however, very lucky in finding partners who, although of a decent standardm were happy to take a relaxed approach to the game; I was onl;ly playing club bridge, after all, and that durign the week.

If you can only devote a limited time to the game at the moment, due to work and family commitments, please ensure that you have a partner who is a pleasure to play with and that the clubs or competitions where you play are equally enjoyable. Bridge for most of us needs to be a pleasurable escape from tthe daily grind and toil; I still kick myself for taking the game seriously but without the required application in the 1980s. If I had really wanted more tournament success, I should have had more self-discipline (e.g. less beer) and worked harder at it; alternatively I could have played more for fun. Zia is worth quoting here: “ASk yourself why wou play. I play it because the game is fun!” All the best with your game regardless,


MirceaJuly 20th, 2014 at 4:11 am

Hi Bobby and Iain, apologies to Jim2 for misplacing the credit, I’m sure he doesn’t mind.

I am very fortunate to have a partner that is a pleasure to play with and to belong to a club that is equally nice. It is obvious to me that unless one is super-talented at bridge, playing at the high level requires a lot of work, commitment and dedication. The highest level I played so far was in Flight B of the Canadian Nationals and although we failed to make the cut to the knock-out stage, it was a thrilling experience. The skill level was far bellow where Bobby plays, but I could sense that the game was totally different. It was the real deal. I can’t wait for CBF to bring them back to Toronto. We will surely attend and strive harder for a better result.

Next time we’re in Vegas, I will surely check out the Bridge World Club. I’m happy I learned about it here because the list of things I was interested in in that city was growing very short for my taste after our first visit there (Bobby, I hope you don’t feel offended). Until now, the only reason to go there again was the scenery around the city – it is truly astonishing, well worth seeing.

Who knows, maybe some day we would all be there (at the same time?) and enjoy the real Bobby Wolff. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

jim2July 20th, 2014 at 12:27 pm