Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 8th, 2015

A brain of feathers, and a heart of lead.

Alexander Pope

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


There are plenty of people at the Dyspeptics Club who would consider raising one spade to two as East, to muddy the waters for the opponents, but at unfavorable vulnerability today's East was not amongst them. Accordingly North-South had a relatively free run to four hearts, against which West cashed his two high spades and shifted to a passive trump. That left declarer free to tackle the hearts and clubs as best he could, without any help from the opponents. At the table he saw no need to look further than drawing trumps and advancing the club king. West took the trick and continued with his passive defense, by returning a club.

Now South tested clubs first, then when they failed to behave he took the diamond finesse, and was more hurt than surprised when it lost.

South was about to start lamenting his bad luck when he noticed from his partner’s premature gloat that this would be inappropriate. Untypically, he asked his partner if there was anything he could have done, rather than trying to absolve himself from blame. What was the response?

South should have drawn trumps ending in his hand then led a low club toward the dummy. West cannot gain by taking the trick and having his ace fall on empty air. But when he ducks, he is thrown in at the next trick with the club ace, to give a ruff-sluff or lead diamonds for declarer. Either way, 10 tricks result.

It is normal to reopen with a double when you are short in the opponents' suit, in case partner was lurking with a penalty double. Here, though, your clubs seem too good for that to be possible and your hearts are too weak to welcome a response in that suit. So simply bid two diamonds now – with passing a viable if pessimistic alternative, in case the opponents have missed the boat in hearts.


♠ A K J 9 2
 9 5
 K 7 4 2
♣ A 5
South West North East
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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Wen TaoJanuary 22nd, 2015 at 6:15 pm

Hi Mr. Wolff,

Indeed, the declarer misplayed this hand and could improve his game. However, if the gloat is actually from his partner, not the opponents, perhaps he should run away from this partner immediately. What would be the point if partners antagonize each other?


bobby wolffJanuary 22nd, 2015 at 7:47 pm

Hi Wen,

Sure, you are right in that partner is criticizing his game. However, this is done at the Dyspeptic club where no one has respect for anyone, friend or foe.

Such lack of class does pervade that particular bridge club, where everyone seems to jockey for rank. The result will usually be a tie for last.

However, a possible lesson to follow is “play well and let your opponents sleep in the streets”, not you.

Thanks for your interest.