Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 28th, 2015

It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.

Elbert Hubbard

S North
Both ♠ A K 7 4 2
 K J 8 7
 Q 10 6 4
♣ —
West East
♠ Q 9 8 5 3
 Q 9
 A 9 8 7
♣ Q 10
♠ J 10
 A 10 6 4 3 2
 K J 3
♣ J 7
♠ 6
 5 2
♣ A K 9 8 6 5 4 3 2
South West North East
5 ♣ All pass    


Seven years ago in the open and women’s finals of the World Mind Sports Games all four tables South opened five clubs, ending the auction. And at all four tables West did extremely well to lead the diamond ace.

In the open final, both Wests now switched to the heart nine, declarer rising with dummy’s king. The English East, Jason Hackett, guessed to cash the diamond king to beat the game. At the other table, Alfredo Versace for Italy tried to give his partner a heart ruff and the game rolled home.

Would declarer have played dummy’s king when he had a holding of Q-5 himself and had no special reason to expect a bad heart break? My experience has been to play opponents not to make brilliant plays, and to pay off to them if they do.

In the women’s final, the Chinese East/West defended just like the Hacketts, but the English West chose to switch to the heart queen. Had this been covered by the king and ace, East would surely have tried to give her partner a heart ruff, but there was a twist in the tale. Declarer did not cover the heart queen.

Now what should East do? If declarer should assume that West would only switch to the heart queen when holding a singleton, then South should indeed duck, forcing East to overtake with the ace in order to give West a ruff. East trusted South to be brilliant, and duly overtook the heart queen to play a second heart. Oops!

You may not have any real extras but your shape strongly suggests that if you have a fit you can make game. Whether that game is diamonds or notrump (or a seven-card fit in a major) may not be clear to you right now, but if you show threeplus diamonds now, by bidding three diamonds, your partner may be in better shape than you to determine the final contract.


♠ A K 7 4 2
 K J 8 7
 Q 10 6 4
♣ —
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT Pass
2 Pass 2 NT 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


jim2June 11th, 2015 at 12:40 pm

The last time I held the BWTA South hand, pard had:


bobby wolffJune 11th, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Hi Jim2,

My partner, holding that hand, opted for 3 clubs over 2 hearts instead of 2NT and after scrambling he came up with 8 tricks to best my opponents score of plus 100 (down 2 in 3 diamonds) at the other table.

Sometimes, even achieving the smallest minus score, satisfies a reasonable goal.

jim2June 11th, 2015 at 7:18 pm

Of course, it mattered not a whit what I did.

bobby wolffJune 11th, 2015 at 8:11 pm

Hi Jim2,

But, you are not taking advantage of your novel situation.

You should chum up with a gambler type and have him kibitz you when you play. Since you held that hand, when, and after you bid 3 clubs, you could bet him a shilling or two that partner will be void and he, no doubt should call, especially when he is capable of figuring out the real approximate odds.

Take advantage of your misery, but never tell any willing victim of your malady or else the jig will be up.

BTW, in spite of partner’s club void, 3 clubs is a practical parking place, and no intelligent bridge analyst would or could deny.

And speaking of denial, it probably will be best for you to deny, deny and deny again your affliction to that awful disease. That alone may be the surprise cure for it.