Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Youth is wasted on the young.

George Bernard Shaw

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


It is encouraging to see that many young people are once again turning to bridge, as it is proven that the logical thought processes involved in playing the game carry over to other subjects.

I came across this problem, set by Tommy Gullberg while trawling through some of the bulletins produced at the Nordic Junior Bridge Camp. Why not cover the East-West hands and test your declarer play in three no-trump?

West leads the spade five; the queen is played from dummy (in the hope of retaining an entry to hand) but East covers with the king. How do you play safely to make the game, regardless of the lie of the cards in the East and West hands?

Win East’s king with your ace and play the diamond two to dummy’s nine. The nine holds — the defenders have no intention of voluntarily allowing you access to your hand. Next, lead dummy’s diamond three to your ace. Now play the diamond queen, on which dummy’s spade 10 must be discarded. And if the king has not put in an appearance, carry on with diamonds.

The defenders are now stymied, since they cannot set up their spades without allowing you access to the South hand. So, when in with the diamond king, the defenders change direction and attack in hearts. But in return you also change tack and set about knocking out the club ace and king. This way you will have garnered nine tricks via one spade, three hearts, two diamonds and three clubs.

When you have game-going values, introduce your longest suit first rather than bidding the major. It is only with hands of less than invitational strength (so-called one-bid hands) that you tend to bid the major before the minor. Here, bid two clubs, then get hearts into the picture at the next turn, to describe your hand precisely.


♠ Q 10
 A K Q 5
 9 3
♣ Q J 10 9 4
South West North East
Pass 1 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 ClimieSeptember 17th, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Hi Bobby,

Without the D9, south should lead the DQ first, then DA, DJ and so on. There may seem little difference but 5-1 breaks are 15% so are worth covering. What would be amusing is if west sucked the diamond holding Kx, although east might differ.

The problem with such a set hand is that south knows not to grab T1, cross to table and run the D9. Being alert enough to avoid this in a real situation when tired is a different matter.



bobby wolffSeptember 17th, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Hi Iain,

As usual, your comments are both varied and to the point, both about deceptive gains and declarer responsibilities.

Yes, being tired is often a huge factor in top level competition both while during a World Championship or even just an important prestigious tournament. In team games, although only 2 pairs play at any one time, a winning team needs 3 excellent pairs to have a good chance and history will document that statement by looking over results of what happens when 2 pairs do not augment to 3.

Just too grueling to attempt, especially these days when so many teams from around the world have become so competitive, not to mention fierce.

angelo romanoSeptember 18th, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Imagine south doesn’t find the best play but follows the D9 with another diamond to ten. West takes the K and, knowing he could win all the spades only if East has four of them (very unlikely), plays hearts, HQ winning.
Now on clubs: East has to manage not to let the C8 to win as an entry to South, so has to duck once, then go back twice to hearts. Now North can’t play the winning clubs, because South is squeezed between S98 and diamond(s), so has to play the S10, but luckily West hasn’t the last heart and has to let South win the last tricks with S9 and diamond(s).
Very nice hand, isn’t it ?

angelo romanoSeptember 18th, 2014 at 10:34 pm

Yes, I know that the defense can easily (?) beat the hand with a small spade to North’s ten, leaving a spade to East to lead when in with clubs, but I liked the development of the play after the heart switch …

bobby wolffSeptember 19th, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Hi Angelo,

Yes, bridge is an attention getter, both in what really happens and also in only what could.

When I was just learning the game, so many years ago I won’t mention it, autobridge was the rage. It was played by putting a subject hand into the autobridge board and then (usually as declarer, but sometimes as defender) playing the hand, one trick at a time until the hand was over. If the student played as incorrect card the board informed him of such and then, after correcting it to the right play, continued on.

By so doing, it was a great learning tool since being there, doing that indelibly impressed on the player’s mind why what he had intended to do was indeed wrong and, more importantly why.

Also each hand was apparently already played by a particular listed expert of the day where the player can read something about the expert’s thoughts while he was playing it.

All very constructive and painless, making learning bridge as pleasant as possible and better yet, done only when he so chose to do it. BTW, the defense always defended in the way making it as difficult as possible for the declarer.

However, for some reason Autobridge faded out, and even in the days when it was estimated in the USA that there were 40 million bridge players out there and they saw fit to have Charles Goren on the cover of Time Magazine in 1958.

We need to find a way to restore bridge to its previous glory.