Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

You can only be young once. But you can always be immature.

Dave Barry

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


Today’s deal comes from an online site. Oren Kriegel of the US Juniors posted the hand, indicating that the winning line had been missed at the table.

Against the doubled slam West cashed the diamond ace (on which declarer unblocked the queen) and led a spade.

Declarer was now in with a chance to make; had West played either red suit at trick two it would have given declarer no hope. Declarer ruffed the spade, cashed the club king to get the bad news, and next played a heart to the king, ruffed a second spade, then cashed his two remaining clubs.

Now he needed to get to dummy to draw the last trump. The winning line is to overtake the diamond 10 with the jack in order to lead out the club ace. On this trick declarer discards his blocking diamond king. The effect of all this overtaking and unblocking play in the diamond suit is to leave dummy with the master nine, but West now guards the fourth round of the suit.

However, as the last trump is led out West comes under pressure in the four-card ending: declarer has ace-queen fourth of hearts left, while dummy has a losing spade, a small heart, and the 9-6 of diamonds. What does West keep? Whether he pitches a heart or unguards diamonds, declarer has the rest.

The reason a spade shift at trick two was fatal to the defense was that it gave declarer another entry to dummy to reduce his own trumps and play the dummy-reversal.

I have often offered the advice that when they double you for penalties at low-levels, you should run. This auction is no exception. Any seven-card fit in a red suit rates to be better than the 6-0 club break with a trumpstack over you, to boot. Redouble for rescue and hope that partner can pick a red suit. (Mind you, if he picks spades you’d be delighted too!)


♠ J 10 6 3
 J 9 8 6 3
 A 7 5 3
♣ —
South West North East
  1 ♠ 2 ♣ Pass
Pass Dbl. Pass 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


David WarheitJanuary 16th, 2016 at 11:31 am

On opening lead, if W leads any card in his hand except the DA, the contract fails. Even after leading the DA, he still has 8 chances out of 12 to beat the contract by leading anything but a S. Of course, having missed 20 chances to prevail, the twenty first one came home: declarer goofed. Okay, 20 out of 21 chances is good enough. The immaturity prize goes to: West!

David WarheitJanuary 16th, 2016 at 11:48 am

Oops. I meant 21 out of 22 chances.

Iain ClimieJanuary 16th, 2016 at 4:54 pm

Hi David,

Your analysis reminded me of a hand some years ago where I realised sitting over dummy where most of the high cards were at an early stage. Around trick 4, partner was on lead and had the opportunity to make a certain plausible looking switch with disastrous consequences. Desperately I willed him (silently and without expression of course) to pick a card at random, but please, please stop thinking. Out came the 1 losing card…



Bobby WolffJanuary 16th, 2016 at 5:44 pm

Hi David & Iain,

Yes, the magical nature of our underrated game (by many) causes many emotions to fluoresce.

Chess is also graceful (various movements of all the royal pieces) and quite artful, especially the timing of winning strategies.

However, can it match the variability of three players (of course, and after the bidding, excluding dummy), not just two, vying in competition, mentally (without vocal communication between the defending partners) plotting to succeed, with sometimes blind flying, but using evidence gleaned along the mental journey.

No surprise my vote is to bridge, if for no other reason than its brilliant concept, although chess, too, deserves most similar accolades.

Only missing out on its lack of sociability and of course, the big attraction to me, the luck or, better said, fortune, always present, but, as all shrewd experienced players know in their hearts, it will even out over time, leaving the eventual victor to fully appreciate his or her splendor.