Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Has anyone supposed it lucky to be born?
I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.

Walt Whitman

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


In today's deal South, declarer in six spades, claimed he was unlucky; he had three good chances, taken them in the correct order, and had come up empty on all of them. Do you agree?

What happened was that West led a heart to South’s ace. South took the spade ace-king (revealing that there was a trump loser). He then played the club ace-king, ruffed a club to hand, and found that this suit was also not behaving. He later took the diamond finesse for down one, being doubly annoyed to find that the diamond queen would have dropped. Was he right to be upset?

South was admittedly unlucky, but a slightly more accurate play (based on the knowledge that hearts were 6-3) would have succeeded. The better line at trick four is to cash the club ace and take a heart ruff. Next, cross to the club king, and when the club jack falls, you take a second heart ruff. Now exit with a low spade.

If West plays a club, your club 10 in dummy means you can claim 12 tricks, so West must play a diamond. Dummy plays low and East’s queen is captured, whatever he does. This approach relies on East’s having six hearts and West’s having either the diamond queen or 10.

Had a club honor not appeared on the second round of the suit, declarer could have reverted to his original line.

Your partner's double is takeout, suggesting four spades and tolerance for clubs. Your choice is to repeat the clubs (somewhat inelegant on a five-card suit) or to bid two no-trump, hoping that partner will either have a heart stopper or will retreat to three clubs. I would follow that route.


♠ 9 8
 J 5 3
 A J 7
♣ A K 10 6 2
South West North East
Pass Pass 1
2♣ 2 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


Iain ClimieJuly 23rd, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Hi Bobby,

A stray point on the defence today. If west had CQJxx he has to calmly play low on the second club – easier said than done. On BWTA, how many points are there in this pack? There is an awful lot of bidding going on.



Bobby WolffJuly 23rd, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, I was playing tired last night which contributed to my misreading card combinations, making the final score scary close.

Both for geriatric research and for analyzing world bridge and its nuances, old people need plenty of rest in order to stay sufficiently sharp as the day turns into night. And, while playing against the world’s systems (in this case a very young Swedish Team averaging perhaps no more than their late 20’s) .. their fresh looks, well thought out but extremely artificial systems, their superior table ethics, with non-intimidating, respectful manner, still provided difficult judgments in knowing their individual tendencies (to me unpredictable). It is perhaps a preview of world class bridge in the near future, with the Western Hemisphere falling further and further behind because of not having bridge in their primary schools.

When will we ever learn????

jim2July 23rd, 2014 at 8:16 pm

You were just teasing them …


Bobby WolffJuly 24th, 2014 at 12:53 am

Hi Jim2,

Yes, that is the way I’d describe it, but why did I feel so badly at the time, and our opponents so confident? When one tries to compete against good players, both sorrow and happiness have short life spans.

jim2July 24th, 2014 at 1:55 am

I do not understand why Nickell was seeded #2 instead of #1.

Bobby WolffJuly 26th, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Hi Jim2,

Because the young Polish team (Kilita)? won the Spingold in 2013 they became the defending champions (1), which, if at least 4 members of that team play in the Spingold the following year, according to the C of C, they become automatic.