Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 22nd, 2015

We’re all islands shouting lies to each other across seas of misunderstanding.

Rudyard Kipling

S North
None ♠ A J 8 7 5
 A 10 8 7
♣ J 9 3
West East
♠ Q 4
 K 10 7 6 5 2
 Q J 6
♣ K 7
♠ 10 6 3 2
 A 9
 5 4
♣ Q 10 8 6 2
♠ K 9
 Q J 8 4
 K 9 3 2
♣ A 5 4
South West North East
1 2 2 ♠ Pass
2 NT Pass 3 Pass
3 NT All pass    


Since the European Open Championships start next week in Tromso, we shall be looking at some entertaining deals from last year’s European Championships, in Croatia.

The problem in today’s auction came when declarer, Tihana Brkljacic, thought the rebid of three diamonds was game-forcing, while North intended it as invitational. There were a number of missed opportunities for the defense in defending three no-trump, but the trick is to take advantage of your opponents’ errors.

West led the spade queen, so declarer won her king and ran the spade nine round to East’s 10. A club switch would have put paid to declarer’s chances but, East could hardly be blamed for switching to ace and another heart, to the queen and king.

West should have ducked the second heart, but having won her heart king, she realized that she could not afford to continue the suit. Rightly assuming that declarer held the diamond king for her opening bid, West placed her partner with the club queen and duly switched to the club king.

South now won her club ace and crossed to the diamond ace to cash her three spade winners, discarding a diamond and two clubs from hand. Forced to come down to four cards, West was squeezed out of her remaining club, so could no longer get to her partner’s club winners. At this point declarer could lead a diamond to her king, and exit with her last diamond. That endplayed West to lead into the jack-eight of hearts at trick 12, to concede the contract.

Your opponents seem well prepared for a heart lead against the slam (why else would East raise to six so dramatically?). With no particular reason in mind I’m going to guess to lead spades, perhaps with the idea that if I can force declarer to ruff, maybe the bad club break will cause him some problems.


♠ Q 9 6 4
 9 6 2
 8 7
♣ J 8 5 4
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♣
Pass 1 ♠ Pass 2
Pass 3 Pass 6
All 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


jim2July 6th, 2015 at 11:42 am

The column says:

“West should have ducked the second heart …”

How could the defense have prevailed if West had, in fact, ducked the second heart? That is, cannot declarer simply use the tempo to play on diamonds for 4 spades, 1 heart, 3 diamonds, and 1 club for 9 tricks?

Bobby WolffJuly 6th, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, you are right as long as declarer used the correct tempo in not running her spades prematurely, therefore not squeezing herself.

Sorry for the inexcusable analyzing gaffe. I guess the lesson learned is that when using a real life hand, played in an important tournament usually between very good players sometimes mistakes abound back and forth. Such is sometimes the nature of a competitive hand with the very best players able to survive while making fewer mistakes than their opponents.

However, that should never occur with bridge writers who are privy to all 52 cards and do not have to guess the best way to insure success.

Bill CubleyJuly 6th, 2015 at 6:31 pm


Back from the Jacksonville Regional and 6 sessions of play. Free snacks and drinks in the afternoon. Shannon ran a good tournament.

Not so many really good players attended considering it is Florida. But I did finish 50th in masterpoints won in a field of 639 players so, “I feel good!” to quote James Brown. I played pairs while the good ones played in the KOs.

My sympathy to the new to bridge lady opponent who got into the action when she should have passed. Still she kept her spirits up and that is good for her.

Bobby WolffJuly 6th, 2015 at 10:21 pm

Hi Bill,

Yes, playing in the Regional teams rather than Pairs, and especially on a very good team, is almost always a sure way to accumulate many masterpoints.

However, by doing so I am not sure what that entitles one to, but that is another story.

My eventual hope is that the Western Hemisphere secures bridge teaching in our schools before too long, for without which we will never be able to keep up with either Europe nor Asia who have seen the light.

The game of Hgh Card Wins is just not sophisticated enough to be a factor, and why Horn Lake and our ACBL BODs continues to favor it can only reflect on their own personal motives to maintain their professional and political positions as long as possible.

Sad, but unfortunately true and it seems nothing on the horizon apparently signifies any reason to refute it.