Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, October 16th, 2015

Life is not a miracle. It is a natural phenomenon, and can be expected to appear whenever there is a planet whose conditions duplicate those of the earth.

Harold Urey

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


Sometimes in bridge a perfectly reasonable bidding sequence can lead to the most horrible contract. But if the cards cooperate, miracles sometimes may happen. Today’s deal, from rubber bridge, is a case in point.

When partner had denied a four-card major there didn’t seem any point in bidding the spade suit, so North simply raised to three no-trump. After a heart lead, South may have thought that a concession of one down would be his best chance of avoiding too big a loss here. Remarkably, though, even after the heart lead he received, three no-trump is unbeatable.

South ducked the lead, won the heart continuation and unblocked the club ace. He then cashed the diamond ace. When the king came tumbling down, it didn’t help a great deal, but declarer tried a low spade from dummy, more in hope than expectation. East went in with the 10, but could do nothing other than exit with a low spade. Declarer won and played another spade and East was in again.

That player could cash his spades, so the defenders had four tricks now. But at that point East had to choose between giving dummy the rest with its diamonds, or leading a club and letting declarer take the rest with the help of his solid suit.

As an aside: though it looks normal enough to lead your long suit even when you have a weak hand, an initial spade lead by West would have beaten the contract. Now on accurate defense East-West must come to three spades, a heart and a diamond.

The choice is a simple one here: since we are far too good to pass, should we invite game by raising to three clubs, or give reference to two hearts? In favor of the invitational raise is that this gets our values across, in favor of giving false preference to two hearts is that this keeps us low and gets us to the most likely strain we can make game in. I lean toward the two-heart call, but it is certainly very close.


♠ A Q 10 2
 K 6
 J 9 5
♣ 9 8 7 4
South West North East
    1 Pass
1 ♠ Pass 2 ♣ 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