Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 23rd, 2015

There is a strength in union even of very sorry men.


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



All the deals this week come from the Fall Nationals, a year ago in Providence, Rhode Island. This deal comes from a qualifying round in the Keohane North American Swiss Teams. On this deal, declarer is in danger from both opponents, but can navigate his way between Scylla and Charybdis.

Let’s say you manage successfully to negotiate away from the lures of diamonds (not that five diamonds is a bad spot) to play three no-trump. You duck the heart lead — king, two, jack, nine) and if the defenders continue hearts you will take a diamond finesse. Then if it loses, you will later play clubs from the top to try to keep West off lead.

Instead, the defenders shift to spades at trick two. You win, and cash a top diamond then a top club, and take a losing diamond finesse. If a heart comes back you revert to the above-mentioned avoidance play strategy to try to keep West out.

But the defenders meanly win the second diamond and play a second spade. You duck, and now with spades 5-3 the defenders have two choices, both bad. If they continue spades, you now simply take a club finesse, not caring if it loses since West will not have a spade to play. If the defenders revert to hearts, you play clubs from the top again. This way you make game not only when either finesse wins but also when the club queen is offside doubleton, as here.

Does this double call for an unusual lead, (the so-called Lightner double) or is it simply an indication that the contract rates to go down? I wish I could answer with confidence, but I’m going to go out on a limb and read this as asking for a club lead. I will lead a low club to stop partner underleading his spade ace.


♠ J 8 7 5 4
 9 5
 K 2
♣ 10 9 3 2
South West North East
  1 ♣ 1 ♠ 2
3 ♠ 4 4 ♠ 5
Pass Pass Dbl. 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


Iain ClimieDecember 7th, 2015 at 10:23 pm

Hi Bobby,

A lovely intricate hand although TOCM would have bitten its favourite victim in an unspeakable manner. West would have been myopic, having a diamond in the hearts and east, with HJ10x, would think Christmas was early. Seriously, though, a fascinating example of move and counter-move.



Bobby WolffDecember 8th, 2015 at 12:16 am

Hi Iain,

One thing for sure is that faithful readers of any bridge column can see many opportunities for devilish distortions such as 5 card weak two bids, which, although side finesses are working, it seems prudent, after counting on the weak two bidder for having 6, fits his declarer play around that assumption.

However up jumps the devil, to the dismay of the competent declarer, leaving him to suffer for his superior knowledge.

However the educational plus coming off such a venture, is to take such things in good stride and be ready to play the next hand to best advantage, never letting emotions, effect future results.

At least that is what any player with very high aspirations should strive. Easy to say, harder to do.

jim2December 8th, 2015 at 12:40 am

Preach it, Brother Iain! Preach!