Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.

J. B. Priestley

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


Sometimes you have to take a chance to compete effectively. West's three diamond bid is risky, with no guarantee of a fit, but the aces and trump intermediates offer some protection from a double. North's final call is a difficult decision: He has trump tricks but no aces. Indeed, even after we see the full deal it is hard to tell how East-West would have fared in three hearts doubled.

After leading the club ace, West can see that dummy’s hearts and clubs will eventually provide discards for declarer’s diamond losers. No special measures are necessary if East has the spade king or diamond king. But if East’s only significant value is the diamond queen, more work is needed. Passive defense will not suffice: West must try to find a way to put East on lead to give a club ruff. Leading out the diamond ace would fail, because East will never get on lead, so a low diamond is the best chance. If East has the diamond king, the defense can cash out.

If declarer wins the diamond shift, West can learn that East doesn’t have the spade king by taking the second round of that suit and underleading his diamond ace again to get East on lead for a club ruff.

Of course, South can make West’s task just a little harder by putting up the diamond jack at trick two, but West should risk investing an overtrick by underleading his diamonds a second time, whatever declarer does.

Despite the fact that you have a minimum in high cards, you should be tempted to compete to three diamonds now. Partner will not go mad; he passed over two hearts and he knows you are a passed hand. You'd like more assets than you have; but that's life.


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


Shantanu RastogiNovember 26th, 2014 at 11:26 am

Hello Mr Wolff

Very nice deal. Very nicely defended – a lesson in proper card visualisation in art of defending well.

best regards

Shantanu Rastogi

jim2November 26th, 2014 at 11:38 am

Was the text supposed to read:

“West’s TWO diamond bid is risky, …” ?

bobby wolffNovember 26th, 2014 at 11:55 am

Hi Shantanu,

Thanks for the kind words about the defense and for the, as you say, enabling card visualization, which makes it happen.

The bad news is that, while at the table, partner is not always as cooperative as is East in today’s hand, thereby sometimes creating doubts in a defender’s mind as to his overall bridge analyzing skills.

The answer is to always hang in there, not allowing less than optimum scores influence the mood, but rather always seeking the right play, bidding and defense regardless of the result.

While the above is easier said than done, the best players have the tougher minds, not easily dissuaded from always attempting to be as good as one can be and not succumbing to the sometime imposters of victory and defeat.

From a writing point of view I am disappointed that the first paragraph referring to a 3 diamond bid, which was printed, but never made by West was in broad view and thus confusing. However, like a bridge player, who is trying, but, of course, not always succeeding, we must continue to plow onward.

The art of both good bridge playing and reporting is well worth risking, in spite of the tacks in the road often close by.

bobby wolffNovember 26th, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Hi Jim2,

Another crossed in the writing!

Yes, but it may have been meant to refer to West’s third round double, which was only asking partner to do something intelligent rather than to sell out to a 2 spade undoubled contract by the opponents.

The playing of bridge, and believe it or not, the writing also has to do with partnership (in writing there are perhaps 6 to 8 eyes involved instead of the 4 in a bridge partnership) and sometimes, since there are no hidden cameras ever present, there is too much room for sloth, resulting in carelessness.

However no excuses and only an apology will ever be proper, since try as we may, our efforts too often come up less accurate than is acceptable and therefore confusing to the poor reader.

Jane ANovember 26th, 2014 at 6:47 pm

My choice for the north hand would be to bid one NT over the opening heart bid. South will transfer to spades and the final contract will more than likely be two spades. I doubt west would take another bid if north bids a NT instead of two clubs. But then there would be little to talk about and this column would not have even been on the blog!

bobby wolffNovember 26th, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Hi Jane,

Where the three key words in real estate, are location, location and location, the three key words in partnership bridge bidding are planning, planning and planning.

You’ve done yours with today’s North hand and although the lack of quick tricks (no aces) standout, with a heart lead I am with you. The problem could only become if your LHO had other suits to attack and by doing so would put paid to your club tricks, too late to develop.

However, I, like you, would love partner to either just bid spades or transfer to them, showing at least 5 and allowing my QJx to be valuable.

Good luck and thanks for the plan.