Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 5th, 2014

When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?
No — here’s to the pilot that weathered the storm.

George Canning

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


They say it is always darkest before the dawn, but the reverse may hold true. Occasionally one finds that just when things look rosiest is when the world is about to fall apart. In today's deal South, declarer in six spades, counted 12 top winners in the form of six trump tricks and six tricks in aces and kings. He assumed that he could pitch his heart on the clubs, then ruff a diamond in dummy after drawing trump.

However, this was on the assumption that trumps were going to break either 2-2 or 3-1. When he laid down the spade ace and found that was not the case, a reappraisal was called for. It might have looked safe to ruff a club in hand, then cross to dummy with a heart to ruff another club, but South could see that one bad break in spades might engender a further bad break in the other major. In the unlikely event that hearts broke 6-0, West could ruff in on the first round of hearts, then cash a diamond winner.

Leaving nothing to chance, South played the club ace, ruffed a club high at trick three, then led a low spade to the seven in dummy. He next ruffed a second club high and led his remaining small trump to dummy’s nine. He could draw the last trump, discarding a diamond from hand, and ended up with 12 tricks the hard way.

If you play as I do, that one diamond denies a major in a hand with less than game-invitational values, then you do not have to worry about introducing a moderate four-card major here, so should bid one no-trump. This action is driven by your good heart stoppers and weak spades. Switch the major honors around so that you have ace-queen fourth of spades, and I would bid one spade.


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


SlarSeptember 19th, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Bidding 1NT with a 4CM major often causes problems for the defense. I was fooled last night into leading my 4th heart and we gave away 2 or 3 tricks when declarer showed up with the 13th heart. Ugh.

bobby wolffSeptember 19th, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Hi Slar,

Yes, I am a fierce advocate in favor of deciding during the bidding, what is my partnership’s best interest, perfectly describing my hand, or rather committing a small lie (usually in the eyes of the beholder), in the interest of getting a more favorable result for us, often in the form of a less damaging lead.

You experienced last night the other side of that coin, which with the eyes of all interested bridge players hopefully wide open, will help then determine for themselves, the best approach.

No one player or partnership will always gain or lose by such antics, but, believe me, do not underestimate how valuable it is to have your opponents not comfortable when playing against your partnership.

Thanks for your comment.