Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, October 18th, 2014

More brain, O Lord, more brain! Or we shall mar
Utterly this fair garden we might win.

George Meredith

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


This hand is from the world championships held in Bali last September, where Italy won the Bermuda Bowl, defeating China in the quarterfinals.

When Chuangcheng Ju declared three no-trump, Antonio Sementa led the diamond king. Dummy’s ace won, as East showed an even number of diamonds. At trick two West captured the club king with his ace.

West could see that cashing his diamonds would give South his ninth trick, so he shifted deviously to his low spade. When declarer finessed, the roof fell in. Giorgio Duboin took the trick and returned a diamond, letting Sementa cash out for down two.

In the other room East had responded two spades at his first turn — weak and natural. Again, the defenders led a top diamond, won the club ace, and shifted to a spade (this time the 10) at trick three.

Norberto Bocchi now knew to win the spade ace and run all his club winners. When the last club was played, East could discard a spade safely enough, and South could shed another diamond. But what was West to do? If he threw a heart, declarer would play the heart ace to drop the king. If he threw a diamond, declarer could play the spade jack and take two more tricks with the heart ace and spade queen. And if West threw his spade, declarer could exit with his diamond, end-playing West to cash his diamonds, but then to lead a heart away from his king at trick 12.

Jump to three no-trump, suggesting a solid or semisolid club suit plus extra values. With a strong balanced hand, you would either rebid two no-trump, or would have opened either one or two no-trump. Hence, you must have a long suit and guards in the majors.


♠ A J
 Q 9 7
 A 8
♣ K Q J 10 7 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


Iain ClimieNovember 1st, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Hi Bobby,

I’m just wondering about the first declarer’s line of play here. Assume for a moment that the spade finesse is actually right – should South be taking it? West clearly has the DKQ and probably the Jack, while he is highly likely to have the HK. So, up with the SA and feed him all those clubs, probably throwing diamonds from hand. West’s hand will get shredded in a similar manner to what happened in the 2nd room.

OK, this smells of hindsight, but is it the sort of hand where, if the spade finesse is right, you don’t need to take it? If wrong, of course, we know the rest.



bobby wolffNovember 2nd, 2014 at 1:28 am

Hi Iain,

Yes, although having the advantage of hindsight, no doubt you would have eschewed the spade finesse in favor of giving West too many important cards or card combinations to hold.

Another “tell” is the opening lead, since South had bid diamonds and, in the face of that, West led the king of that suit. To me, that shows his approximate real holding, since of all leads, when an opening leader, particularly a seasoned player, leads a suit that the declarer has bid himself, it will always show a very strong holding.

One of the beauties of bridge, particularly at the high-level, is the diversity of thinking which needs to go with, in order to hold one’s own. Every bid, every play needs to be considered, by your partnership and of course, also your worthy opponents. After some experience, if one has the time to invest, intuitive thinking becomes at least as important as strict analysis, and is often the unknown factor which separates defeat from victory.

Thanks always for your inspiration.