Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, March 13th, 2015

This shows how much easier it is to be critical than to be correct.

Benjamin Disraeli

West North
Neither ♠ Q
 A K Q J 9
 A J 7
♣ A 7 4 2
West East
♠ 4 3
 10 8 6 4 2
♣ K Q 10 8 6 5
♠ K 9 8 7 6 5
 10 8 5 2
♣ J 9 3
♠ A J 10 2
 7 6 4 3
 K Q 9 5 3
♣ —
South West North East
  3♣ Dbl. 4♣
4♠ Pass 5 Pass
6 All pass    


When you reach the wrong strain, and at the wrong level, there is a special incentive to play it well, or partner will be more than usually unhappy.

It was remarkably unlucky that six diamonds was not a claim – but there again, in a perfect world North-South would have played in seven hearts.

At the table South won the opening lead, discarding a spade on the club ace, and led to the diamond jack to get the bad news. Undaunted, he ran the spade queen, East ducking his king, and then played three more rounds of trumps, leaving West with the high trump.

Now declarer went after hearts, but it was easy for West to delay ruffing in until the fourth round of the suit (if he mistimes his ruff, declarer will get his spade away, either sooner or later). Then he exited with a club, and South had a spade loser at the end.

To make the slam legitimately, South must ruff the opening lead in hand and cross to the diamond jack. Then he runs the spade queen and draws three more rounds of trumps, discarding a club from the table. Next he cashes the spade ace, discarding dummy’s last small club, and starts on the hearts. Whenever West ruffs, he must return a club and dummy will be high. Declarer knows West has no more than two spades, since he has five trump and at least six clubs. So he will not have a spade left to lead when he ruffs in.

Whatever you do, please do not make a take-out double or you may find yourself raised to the moon in clubs, and regretting your impetuosity. A one spade overcall is out, because you really ought to have five for that action, and a bid of two diamonds might lose spades for good, as well as being an overbid. Pass and hope to get a second shot later when you have learned more.


♠ A J 10 2
 7 6 4 3
 K Q 9 5 3
♣ —
South West North East

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


Iain ClimieMarch 27th, 2015 at 9:51 am

Hi Bobby,

I’m bemused by South’s 4S bid; surely 5C is an obvious and better alternative although 6H is the likely result unless North punts 7 relying on south to have the SA and good diamonds. Could S even consider 6C or is that too pushy?



Iain ClimieMarch 27th, 2015 at 10:32 am

Also, is there another line after CA, DA? Run SQ, feed west 3 hearts. Ruff club, SA ruffed with 8 by wet and over ruff, club ruff, spade Jack. If west ruffs high, throw club and he must either give ruff sluff or lead one of his 2 remaining trumps when draw trumps and claim. Worth a,shot, or am I missing something?


bobby wolffMarch 27th, 2015 at 10:40 am

Hi Iain,

Bemused is a good word to describe South’s choosing to underbid and practically overlooking his longer minor suit to choose a major and then gravitating to his stronger equal length one to pinpoint his genius (slightly sarcastic).

Yes, I would almost automatically choose 5 clubs in order to first scurry to the right strain and second show the underrated strength of such a collection in response to partner’s action.

Although you didn’t ask, I, being North, would then respond a sound 6 heart effort, showing decided preference for such an action and, of course, happiness that he decided to double rather than just settle for an original 4 heart bid.

After those actions as to what South should do, raise to the grand slam in hearts or be content with one lesser level will be left to the quality of who is sitting South in appraising his partner’s judgment.

And to the talent necessary for judging I would rate as the number one quality in order to be one of the top players to ever play the game, judging it significantly more important than being one of the very best bridge technicians, of which there are few, but still of that group there is often little to choose in comparing them and, of course, all need to be world class, or at least close.

Thanks for your always interesting and to the point observations.

bobby wolffMarch 27th, 2015 at 11:12 am

Hi again Iain,

I just played out your winning line in 6 diamonds (certainly the logical one after discovering the diamond break) and indeed you are on the money. Let the record show that you are not missing anything.

Even though it is now exactly 4:03AM here in Las Vegas,l I am impressed with your accuracy and even more so with your determination.

Nothing much more to say except (if your beautiful loving wife is like mine and she likely is), haven’t you something more productive to do, like taking out the garbage, than working on how somebody else should play some insignificant slam.

If they only knew!

Iain ClimieMarch 27th, 2015 at 11:19 am

Hi Bobby,

Many thanks for the kind comments but I’m wrecking your sleep – sorry! We’re 7 hours different here.


bobby wolffMarch 27th, 2015 at 11:25 am

Hi Iain,

Are you kidding me?

One can sleep anytime, but declaring a good slam hand is much more fun. And the craziness continues, but rest assured I am doing what I apparently was put on earth to do, and loving it! Maybe when I get old, I’ll change directions.

jim2March 27th, 2015 at 11:56 am

On South’s bid after four clubs, what would double have meant?

Michael BeyroutiMarch 27th, 2015 at 3:29 pm

How about….
After 4C South bids 5C.
North bids 6C (!) and South bids 7C!
Now North bids 7H…
Just kidding.

bobby wolffMarch 28th, 2015 at 12:59 am

Hi Jim2,

Double after 4 clubs. instead of 4 spades (which is nothing short of horrible) is a takeout but usually sort of balanced, showing cards and prepared to know what to do, opposite any normal action from his partner. 5 clubs is merely a better hand and also prepared for any other suit, but unlimited in strength.

bobby wolffMarch 28th, 2015 at 1:15 am

Hi Michael,

If I chose 5 clubs and partner bid 6 clubs, I would seriously consider 7 clubs and definitely would do so if the queen of hearts was added to my collection.

Thirteen tricks are more often present, especially when a void is held in the opponents suit and never forget that a grand slam occurs more often than expected when big bids are taken. The caveat to remember, when making the first big cue bid is not to go too far in trying to reach the best strain at the risk of partner bidding too much.

So with s. AKxx. h. KQJ10x, d. x c. AKx just bid 6 hearts but never 6 clubs since obviously partner is going to expect your values to be outside of clubs (Both the AK of clubs could be waste paper instead of critical). However with s. AKJx, h. AKQx. d. AJxx. c. x 6 clubs should be justified since partner will surely cover the other three suits with matching honors and likely will hold 1st round club control if he is at all thinking of a grand slam.

The unknown factor to most is that instead of needing 37 points for a grand slam, perhaps a working 30 (or even less) will do.