Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, December 18th, 2015

I am fond of children (except boys).

Lewis Carroll

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


The ever-increasing average age of the tournament bridge player is a much-discussed cause for concern, so it is always a pleasure to report on a good play by a young player. Today’s deal is from a recent World University championships.

Declarer was Tzu-Lin Wu, of Chinese Taipei, who managed to justify his ambitious bidding (his four heart bid was a successful effort to try to avoid a heart lead).

West led the spade jack against six diamonds. Can you see any hope for the contract? Declarer created an intriguing mirage when he covered the jack with dummy’s queen. This went to the king and ace.

South then crossed to dummy with a diamond and played a heart to his jack and West’s ace. Put yourself in the West seat, and think what you would do now. Not unreasonably, West tried to cash the spade 10; wouldn’t you? Of course now declarer had a winner in dummy in the form of the spade nine to take care of the heart loser, and the slam was home.

This year the World Youth Open Championships took place in Croatia, with the US having a modest attendance. But I was particularly pleased to see that at Chicago this summer a team consisting of four juniors and Steve Zolotow of Las Vegas put together a convincing win in the 0-5000 Spingold.

I’m hoping this squad should go on to bigger and better things in the under-25 events, and we also have a highly promising under-21 squad too, which won the silver medal at the 2014 world championships.

Don’t even think about doubling for take-out. Yes, the opponents may be trying to steal from you, but that is no excuse for bidding without any justification. You have no shape, no high cards – and more importantly you have a passed partner who can re-open if he has attractive distribution, with no fear of being taken too seriously.


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

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


David WarheitJanuary 1st, 2016 at 11:14 am

Mr. Wu gets top marks for his play, but his bidding (i.e. the 4H bid) is inconceivable. When W wins the HA, he should smell a rat. Remembering the bidding, is it possible that S held the HK? Not really. Obviously, he didn’t have the HA, but he did have the SA. So why didn’t he bid 4S instead of 4H? Something funny is going on, so as long as W doesn’t lead a S, the contract must fail. Interestingly, if S had bid 4S but then stopped in 5D or 5C, I think his clever play might succeed, after all W might now think that S had SAx and singleton HJ. And after all, making 12 tricks at D is a top regardless of whether the final contract is 5 or 6. Given W’s holding in D & C, he still shouldn’t lead the S10, but it is more difficult to see.

Jane AJanuary 1st, 2016 at 4:03 pm

Yep, I agree. Seems like south was going for the gold and should have been shot down in flames. NT is cold for five. I don’t understand the heart call by south either, and then when his partner says “no thanks” why he pushes to slam anyway. Hot dog bidding, but south got away with it.

Jane AJanuary 1st, 2016 at 4:17 pm

OK, maybe north was showing his club ace over four hearts? But even still he had been less than enthusiastic about slam along the way. Maybe he should have bid five clubs over the four diamond call by south to show the double fit. Might have slowed south down? But they still miss their optimum game by passing up NT. Who wants to play five of a minor? Obviously not this south!

Also, why did north bypass the chance to bid his heart suit at his first bid? The auction would have been quite different then. How about this- one diamond, one heart, three clubs, three diamonds, three spades, three NT. four NT, done.
Or one club, one heart, two diamonds, three clubs, three spades, three NT, four NT, done. Same result, making five.

Bobby WolffJanuary 1st, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Hi David,

Everything you say is both pertinent and wise.

However the subject of both legitimate and false cue bidding on the way to slam, especially with clever minds, either at the top of the heap or, as is here, aspiring to be, is much diverse and to be respected.

Also before we leave this compelling subject, some partnerships treat both first (aces and voids) and second round controls (kings and singletons) alike in priority with the idea, not being off the first two tricks in any one suit.

No doubt the bidding (South’s 4 club bid) seemed to be suggesting 5-5 in the minors making it such that if so, even if the heart jack was singleton (if it was not then the spade ace was indeed a singleton), there might not be any necessity to take the setting spade trick then, except for the possibility of declarer then going to dummy in one of the minors and then leading another heart from dummy tantalizing East into rising with the king for a devastating result.

Your analysis is 99+% correct, but sometimes a defender, even a potential world class one, may fall victim to a very deceptive and believable declarer who sells not owned bridges for a living.

However, perhaps West should win the heart jack and lead the 10 of hearts back, preventing his unknowing partner a gift of knowledge seldom seen at less than the top echelons with our beautiful game.

Always thanks for your intelligent sleuthing.

Bobby WolffJanuary 1st, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Hi Jane A,

No doubt you have covered every legitimate way for NS to have intelligently bid their hands to reach the optimum contract of 3, 4 or even 5NT, all laydown against any defense or distribution.

However the above unchallenged par result was tweaked with a birdie or I would guess in golf parlance an eagle, with his particular effort.

While David was emphatic in punching holes in the young bridge genius, Tzu-Lin Wu of China, being successful on this hand, the fact remains that he was.

No doubt in the long run, those who endeavor for sensational results while experiencing many unbelievable highs in their quests, but do not ever forget the disasters that fate will also, in the fullness of time, no doubt, deliver.

In the meantime it seems to be fun, at least it is for me, to write about them, especially when the result turns out to be a bulls-eye.

You write about good bridge, down the middle, sensible and what we all should be doing. Thanks for following up with the rest of the story, since everyone should understand both sides.