Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 9th, 2015

The relationship between superiors and inferiors is like that between the wind and the grass. The grass must bend when the wind blows across it.


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


The 1997 Cavendish tournament moved from New York to Las Vegas, because the prize money had become so significant that the organizers were running the risk of falling foul of the state gambling laws. That year the total auction pool was 1.3 million dollars, and the owner of the winning pair collected about $350,000.

Since the winners, Harry Tudor and Michael Seamon, had bought more than half of themselves at a cost of $15,000 this made for a pretty good investment. Here they are in action, this board being a slight indication of how the wind was going to blow for them throughout the event.

Game looks comfortable enough for North-South, particularly three no-trump by South, and the very fortunate position in diamonds means that if you reach five diamonds you can survive even on a trump lead by dropping the spade king in three rounds. That does not make it a great spot however. Seaman and Tudor were more ambitious; they reached six diamonds from the South seat after an auction that they were not prepared to release to adults of a nervous disposition. I have made my best guess at it.

They were lucky enough to get a club lead — can you spot the winning line now? Take the ace of clubs, ruff a spade, and ruff a club, then play a trump to dummy, and ruff another club. When clubs break three-three, play ace and another trump, and claim the rest, with three club discards for your losing spades.

Two experts whom I respect, Anders Wirgren and Benito Garozzo have written very intelligently on the subject of when to lead shortage and when to lead from length or honors. In essence, both conclude that leading singletons is much better in practice, and I see no reason to disagree with them. Lead your diamond and blame me if it is wrong.


♠ 10 3 2
 K Q 6 5
♣ Q 9 8 4 3
South West North East
Pass 1 ♣ Pass 1 ♠
Pass 2 ♠ Pass 4 ♠
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


jim2November 23rd, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Is leading a diamond to the king and then ruffing a spade equivalent? That is, is there any mathematical advantage to which board trump entry to use first/second?

bobby wolffNovember 23rd, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Hi Jim2,

Good question, that is if one doesn’t mind his head hurting (your coined expression).

My guess (and I use that term advisedly) is that the only difference between using one entry or the other first, is the number of down tricks the declarer may tumble, depending on all the specific possibilities of unfavorable lies.

On this hand, with declarer luck shining brightly, it matters not which comes first, but on so many others it might, when certain distributions might cause different endings, probably only to save a trick, but maybe even two brought about with making both the ace and king of hearts separately and even throwing in a spade endplay.

However it is doubtful that unless the clubs are favorable (3-3, or 4-2 with the Kx somewhere, together with a very favorable trump position) this slam would not be made, Tudor-Seamon may not have won the tournament, this hand would never have been presented, but with the very good news of neither of our heads would have started to hurt.

However, one word of advice to anyone in this or similar contracts…..only look for positions where lightning may strike and 12 tricks may be scored up, please do not then look for ways to hold losses down when, on a rainy day unless it immediately comes to mind.

There must be at least some consideration for invading the patience of the opponents. The above is only IMO (others may disagree), but I would include it in my definition of practicing active ethics.

Bill CubleyNovember 23rd, 2015 at 3:46 pm

Congratulations! The local paper revised its puzzles and you have replaced Frank Stewart's column.

bobby wolffNovember 23rd, 2015 at 4:11 pm

Hi Bill,

Thank you for the unquestioned good news, at least to me.

In these days of not much wine and roses available, many newspapers have ceased operations and even for ones who haven’t, many specific features, bridge columns being one of them, have been hard hurt.

However, since Frank Stewart is such a dear person, great promoter to all things bridge, and fast friend to both Judy and me, I tend to temper my happiness, but while doing so, sincerely appreciate your good wishes.

“A place for everything and everything in its place”. Benjamin Franklin