Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

Reality is easy. It’s deception that’s the hard work.

Lauryn Hill

W North
N-S ♠ 8 6
 A Q 3
 J 10 7 6 3
♣ J 8 5
West East
♠ 10 5 4 3
 J 9 7
 K 8
♣ Q 9 6 2
♠ J 9 7 2
 10 6 5
 A 5
♣ A 7 4 3
♠ A K Q
 K 8 4 2
 Q 9 4 2
♣ K 10
South West North East
  Pass Pass Pass
1 NT Pass 3 NT All pass


The following deal was composed by Fred Karpin, and contains a somewhat subtle trap. It is based on a real-life deal from the 1930s played by Richard Frey, one of the 10 original ACBL lifemasters.

After South opened a 16-18 no-trump, North simply raised to game. West’s natural lead against that contract was a spade rather than a club. There is much to be said for leading the five not the three (second from four small) but West led the three. Declarer won in hand with the king and advanced a low diamond, hoping to get past West, assuming that if East won the first diamond he would surely continue spades.

But our West was made of sterner stuff and hopped up with the diamond king and shifted to a club. Now you would expect East to win and clear clubs, setting up five winners for the defenders; but when declarer dropped the king under the ace, East rethought the position. ‘Clearly’ declarer had king-queen doubleton in clubs, so a spade continuation looked appropriate.

Of course if East had trusted his partner, he would have inferred that West’s choice of the club two at trick three should have indicated that the right defense was to continue clubs, not to revert to spades. If West had started life with A-10 of spades and needed to put his partner in for the spade play, he would have shifted to the highest club spot he could afford. But declarer gave the defense the chance to err, and East took it.

The playing strength in the form of a five-card suit with decent intermediates makes this just worth a quantitative jump to four no-trump. If your partner doesn’t declare the hands so well, settle for the simple raise to three no-trump and be prepared to apologize for your discretion.


♠ 8 6
 A Q 3
 J 10 7 6 3
♣ J 8 5
South West North East
    2 ♣ 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


Iain ClimieAugust 18th, 2015 at 11:27 am

Hi Bobby,

On BWTA, why not reply 2N to 2C with an iffy pard, thus potentially hogging the band? GTNIF can be useful here. I like the CK play, though.



bobby wolffAugust 18th, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, bidding 2NT the first time needs to be seriously considered,
since with the only the flaw of 2 little spades (instead of 3) the rub. It would undoubtedly allow a 3NT contract instead of the 4NT final bid, just in case partner had a minimum 22 or a disliked 23.

Of course Jim2’s strong opening would no doubt contain only Kx in spades with a spade lead from a non ace holding.

However Iain doesn’t start with a J, so why not?

And shouldn’t it be GTNF instead of GTNIF (get to NT first).

I also loved the king of clubs play, a well thought out of the box, deception. The older bridge gets, the more varied clever ruses emerge.

jim2August 18th, 2015 at 8:18 pm

The, the, the THINGS I get blamed for! 🙂

bobby wolffAugust 19th, 2015 at 4:10 pm

Hi Jim2,

Without you basically discovering and then naming TOCM, the world wide bridge world would be without resource in dealing with it.

Like AIDS, EBOLA and the BUBONIC PLAGUE no cures would ever be found.

No one actually blames you, but instead, idolizes you for being its poster boy. In years to come, none of us will probably be left to experience the great joy of finally finding a cure.