Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

The blazing evidence of immortality is our dissatisfaction with any other solution.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

* Hearts or the black suits


Today’s deal came from a correspondent who supplied me with his missed chance for immortality, as usual identified a day too late.

West’s bid of three clubs was an improvisation, designed to confuse, and in a sense he was right; his side had a cheap sacrifice in spades, but the question was whether five hearts would make.

My correspondent ducked the opening spade lead, hoping East would contribute the ace; when this failed, he drew trump in two rounds and ruffed out spades for a diamond discard. However the 5-0 club break was too much for him, and he finished up losing three tricks in the minors. It was only on the next day that one of his opponents pointed out that he had missed his chance.

When the chance at trick one fails, declarer should have used trump entries to ruff out the spade ace, and then pitched a club not a diamond on the top spade. Since East was almost guaranteed to have 5-2-1-5 shape, he must therefore have a singleton diamond honor, given West’s failure to lead a top diamond at trick one. So the play is to exit from dummy with a small diamond, felling East’s ace, ruff the spade return, and play a second diamond, catching West in a Morton’s Fork coup. If he takes his diamond king there are two discards for the clubs; if not, the only losers are a club and a diamond.

These days Leaping Michaels is a popular treatment after your opponents open with a weak two bid. Here a jump to four clubs would show clubs and a major – which would seem ideal. However you need a better hand than this to take the action. A simple call of two spades (hoping to get another chance) is the most sensible course of action.


♠ A J 10 6 5
 J 4
♣ K 10 7 6 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 ClimieMay 16th, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Hi Bobby,

Was South’s first round pass really sensible here? Double to show balanced rubbish, pass to show something (balanced with a few points or a hand that knows where to go next) and suit bids to show weak distributional hands seems a better approach. If South just bids 4H, North has a rather better picture but credit to West for having some fun. Nice play, though, or not would have been if South had found it.



Bobby WolffMay 16th, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Hi Iain,

Credit the analysis with more realism than one might suspect.

My general discussion has recently emphasized visualization rather than just sheer technical ability, and this hand, at least up to now, has required it more than most.

Furthermore, the experience of playing with and against vivid imaginations can only improve the accuracy of the declarer and although not ever a sure fire proposition it will certainly lend itself to hands which will be at least remembered for years with their brilliance.

Not unlike one of the great generals in war who is able to forecast his worthy oppositions next move, plan for it, wait until it happens and then, and only then, have the last laugh.

Very satisfying is an underbid, but the very few players who have often succeeded in such tactics will always live on in my mind as being the best among the best, which, in turn makes the process worth emulating or at the very least, worth attempting.