Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 10th, 2015

Our greatest fear should not be of failure… but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.

Francis Chan

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


Today’s comes from the rubber bridge table and features the enterprising if slightly optimistic bidding that one generally encounters in that environment.

Perhaps North was wrong to redouble six clubs, since if he had passed South might have contemplated converting to six diamonds, offering a choice between six hearts and six no-trump, both of which would have been successful on the actual lie of the cards.

In the event, declarer mistimed the play in six clubs, but West’s four-card trump holding was not necessarily going to be fatal so long as he held a decent ration of red-suit cards. In this type of situation it is important to envisage the end-position, assuming the 4-0 trump break. One needs to force West to split his trump honors, then strip off all the plain cards and force him to lead into your remaining trump tenace.

Look at the play on a diamond lead. Declarer wins the ace, crosses to the heart queen and plays a club. West must contribute the 10 and dummy wins the king. Now a top heart discarding a diamond, and a heart ruff, is followed by two top spades. A spade ruff is followed by another heart ruff (safe given East’s discard a round ago) and another spade ruff.

After four spades, four hearts, and one trick in each minor, declarer has A-9-8 of clubs and West has Q-J-2. Declarer leads out the trump eight and West can win with the jack but is endplayed at trick 12.

The general rule on 6-4 hands, even those in the minimum range, is that you bid the four-card suit at your second turn, so long as you can do so efficiently, without making a reverse. The rare exceptions come when all your strength is in the six-carder and the four-card suit is weak. That certainly isn’t so here. So bid two diamonds now.


♠ —
 A K J 9 4 3
 A 10 5 4
♣ K 6 5
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ 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


Iain ClimieJuly 24th, 2015 at 2:31 pm

Hi Bobby,

I imagine west had to buy the beer today – he should have recalled Oscar Wilde on temptation. Harsh quote today though – I love the game but Ouch!



Bobby WolffJuly 24th, 2015 at 4:13 pm

Hi Iain,

While you may be right on both counts, still…..

Resisting temptation may only cause frustration, resulting in another description of too much competitive spirit, tending to cloud some players better judgment and he then moves in for the kill and accomplishes it, however instead of being the victor, becomes the vanquished.

But, regarding the quote, isn’t the only important thing in life is winning at bridge, instead of, for example, Leo Tolstoi’s War and Peace? C’mon now!

Iain ClimieJuly 24th, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Hi Bobby,

In a fit of masochistic self-improvement, I once read W & P in two days. Anna Karenina is much more relaxing, while I found Dostoyevsky harder going still – Crime and Punishment could apply to my bad bids. Given the choice between Russian literature and maybe at bridge, I might still prefer to play, so you have a point. Even the seriously do-gooders (so not me) need light relief.


Iain ClimieJuly 24th, 2015 at 4:45 pm

Maybe losing, of course in the post above. Definitely losing makes it closer.

Yasser HaiderJuly 24th, 2015 at 5:07 pm

Hi Bobby
I don’t understand the double of 4S. Even the double of 6C is very dubious giving declarer a blueprint of the hand when otherwise he may have gone off. And for what gain? Its not going off more than one trick most times

Bobby WolffJuly 24th, 2015 at 5:43 pm

Hi Iain,

Aye! Losing, especially at bridge, is to be avoided at all costs, although winning instead is then often the result, leaving us to define winning as merely the emotion usually felt when nothing terrible occurs.

Bobby WolffJuly 24th, 2015 at 5:48 pm

Hi Yasser,

No doubt, West was trigger happy, which sometimes happens when a player gets nervous and wants to prove his worth.

Of course your post is right on, but strongly understates West’s culpability.

However let it be a beacon of what not to do.

Iain ClimieJuly 24th, 2015 at 10:04 pm

Hi Bobby,

Without west’s double, how would you play 6C especially as H5-1 are more likely than C4-0?



Bobby WolffJuly 24th, 2015 at 11:24 pm

Hi Iain,

No doubt win the diamond in dummy and lead a club. Down 1. Too much extra stuff to happen to even consider a low club from hand, but if I did, West would not split and down I would go.

Joe1July 24th, 2015 at 11:32 pm

Love the quote–sobering to say the least. But philosophically, in the hierarchy of happiness, playing right trumps winning; at least according to some. I agree the blueprint is there, even for a novice, after the double. Rubber bridge though may be bridge at its finest, more uncertainty, more creativity. At least from my humble perspective (a lot of nice people play rubber, and play well, and succeed in life in many ways) bridge though has intrinsic value, in the teaching of many life lessons ( as in the MPs v Lords game recently).

Bobby WolffJuly 25th, 2015 at 4:23 am

Hi Joe1,

One of my favorite and no doubt practical quotes may apply to today’s truth:

“All generalizations are wrong, including this one”.

I do agree with your hierarchy of happiness opinion, your view of rubber bridge, and that playing bridge often and well provides much transferable value. and one more consideration.

One is always responsible for how well he plays, but that fickle female, “Dame Fortune” likely will control one’s destiny, certainly including who wins.

Bobby WolffJuly 25th, 2015 at 11:51 am

Hi Iain & everyone else interested,

An afterthought.

Upon reflection and I think, worth incorporating into one’s declarer play agenda is attention to detail concerning deception.

As a matter of course, if leading clubs (trumps) first from hand, even if no real intent in passing the first trump (e.g. no penalty double of 6 clubs) still it is worth the effort (only mental agility) to lead the nine from hand, enticing an inexperienced (perhaps including others also) into covering, which if done, would cause a revamped line of play (column) and perhaps met with the same startling result of contract made.

Furthermore, since by doing so, it certainly does not violate any ethical rules of the game itself, but rather, only doles out more obstacles to those worthy opponents to have a chance to prove their worth.

As an example when declaring with AJ32 in dummy, but either 109876 or 1098765 in hand and wanting to not lose the lead (later cross ruff, specific timing or only guessing it right) always lead the 10, not a lower one in order to mentally shake up, or create doubt, to one’s LHO.

These plays are ALWAYS made (or should be) by the better players around, and although not much is said nor fuss made about them, but if their annual scores were analyzed this attention to maximum strategies would show a surprising (I think) success rate to anyone interested.