Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

You have to be able to be a good loser. You have to be okay knowing you’re going to fail every day in something without getting mad and upset.

Dan O’Brien

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


The USA Trials are frequently held on a double-elimination format. The undefeated team becomes USA1, while the team who emerges from the once-defeated pool plays the losing finalists for the right to be USA2. Today’s recent deal comes from the final battle for the USA2 spot. For the winners, Jeff Meckstroth is generally considered to be one of the top declarer players in the world, but this deal saw him outplayed.

Against four spades West led the diamond jack. Meckstroth won dummy’s ace and immediately played a club to his jack and West’s ace. West continued with the club 10 ducked all round, then switched to a heart, establishing the fourth defensive trick for his side.

In the other room Mike Kamil, as declarer, had been given a little help because West had overcalled two hearts. He won the diamond lead, drew two rounds of trumps, cashed his other top diamond, and played ace and another heart. When East won his queen (and it would not have helped him to unblock), he had to choose between giving a ruff and discard and opening up the clubs.

This line had nothing to lose. If trumps had not broken 2-2, then declarer could still have played a club from the dummy, making the contract when East had either both honors or one honor doubleton.

With trumps 2-2, when declarer exits with a heart, he knows that if the defenders can safely play a third heart, he has still preserved all his options for playing clubs for two losers.

Playing an old-fashioned style where an immediate jump to two spades would have been strong, I have to bid two spades now and live with the fact that this is not an invitational sequence. (Were an initial two-spade jump weak, this sequence would be more constructive.) I’ll rather go low than high here, since if my partner has an unbalanced hand with extras he will probably find another call.


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


Bill CubleyFebruary 3rd, 2016 at 6:17 pm

Is the quote for the new Ruby and Emerald LMs? Or just me?

bobby wolffFebruary 3rd, 2016 at 7:59 pm

Hi Bill,

A psychologist may ask, after reading the above quote, what words immediately come to mind to which some may answer, “never think that way”, or “no doubt understating the number of daily failures”, or “I do not either allow nor tolerate failures”, but some, when being apparently gifted with a pile of horse manure will immediately start looking for the “sight of a Shetland pony” surely outside.

Optimistic, no doubt, but possibly the beginning of a record setting bridge career.