Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, January 14th, 2016

If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.

Albert Einstein

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

*Weak with one major


In this deal from last year’s NEC tournament in Yokohama Jason Hackett played three notrump as South, after East had opened two diamonds to show a weak hand with one major. One can hardly blame West for failing to lead a heart. While the logic of leading a diamond is obvious, West decided from the lack of a Stayman enquiry to try a major. He led a low spade and Hackett guessed extremely well at trick one to put up the jack (perhaps because the lead might have been from queen-third?).

Now came a low heart from dummy, East inserting the nine. Declarer won the ace, led a club to the king, and a club back to East’s queen. He took the diamond shift and led a third club, catching the defenders in a very unusual position.

If West played low, then he would be known to win the fourth club, since he still had the ace. So declarer would cash the heart king and throw West in with the third diamond. West would be able to cash his minor winners but would then have to lead a spade into the tenace at trick 12.

If West flew up with the club ace, then East would be sure to win the fourth club. Declarer could win the diamond return, cash his spade winner, remove East’s exit in diamonds and run the heart eight, letting East win and cash his master club but lead a heart into the tenace at trick 12. This line would work equally well if the defenders cash the fourth club at once.

Your partner has suggested a hand with more values than a direct jump to three clubs, so you have too much to pass now. Since he clearly does not have a diamond stopper or he would bid no-trump himself, you do not want to suggest no-trump (a three diamond call might show jack-third or an equivalent half stopper). It feels best to raise to four clubs; if partner passes, you probably won’t have missed game.


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


jim2January 28th, 2016 at 1:37 pm

If East-West are not busy bidders, North likely ends up at the helm in 4S. Good luck with that.

bobby wolffJanuary 28th, 2016 at 8:16 pm

Hi Jim2,

I can sure see why North could wind up at 4 spades from North at the other table, with East opening a “pushy 2 hearts and South then electing to double instead of bidding 2NT. Then after North contents himself with only a 2 spade minimum response, South may feel an inclination to raise, but then after North continues on, it may be with 3NT, which in this case will have chances as against the doom forecast for a spade game.

Sometimes small decisions result in big wins with the beauty of bridge, never knowing when those opportunities may appear.

jim2January 28th, 2016 at 9:09 pm

My comment was with E-W staying quiet.

bobby wolffJanuary 28th, 2016 at 10:18 pm

Hi Jim2,

Oh, OK, however same thing, but perhaps a different result.

So often and so familiar back in the day of the late 1960’s when the Aces were playing week-end matches of 128 boards against good players and then were critiqued carefully and often painfully, it then becoming so obvious that only fate determined many game and even slam swings.

Often, no culpability, but nevertheless causing concern about techniques, behaviors and above all, partnership rapport.

Could it be that success in bridge mirrors life?

Being able to deal with victory and defeat and treat those two impostors just the same.