Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Chiefly the mold of a man’s fortune is in his own hands.

Francis Bacon

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


The four most regular players at the Dyspeptics Club most frequently play in set partnerships, both North and East putting up with their weaker partners simply to have someone they can shout at without fear of violent physical response. And North swears he will never give up his partner, because, as he says, he holds such poor cards himself that it is a joy to play with a man who regards a strong no-trump as less than his full entitlement of high card points.

In today’s deal South declared four spades on the lead of the club 10. Thinking that it would not matter whether he lost a club now or later, he played low from dummy. East won with the king and, since it was clear that his partner held very little, farsightedly attacked diamonds, playing West for the 10 by boldly leading into dummy’s tenace. Since he was due to regain the lead twice more with his top hearts, he was able to establish the setting trick in diamonds for the defense.

Declarer gains a tempo if he wins the opening lead with the ace. It looks now as though he can draw trump and establishing dummy’s hearts for two diamond discards — but there is a second pitfall. East may let the heart queen win, take the second heart and exit with king and another club. Now declarer is left with two diamond losers.

The correct sequence of play is to win the club ace, play the spade ace and jack, then start on hearts. Now the defense is powerless.

It would be sadistic to leave your partner in one no-trump doubled with a Yarborough. Some people play ‘system on’ after this double. If you do, so that a call of two clubs would be Stayman, you might consider using redouble here as a rescue to a minor. Partner bids two clubs, and you pass or correct to two diamonds. If you play natural rescues, I would advocate running to two clubs initially.


♠ 2
 6 5 4 2
 10 8 4 2
♣ 10 9 8 7
South West North East
Pass 1 1 NT Dbl.

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


Peter PengMarch 18th, 2016 at 3:57 am

Hi Mr. Wolff

Is there a name for these plays in which complex sequencing
are required?

I say complex because I could not see it even double dummy, before the

best always

Dreama PerdueMarch 18th, 2016 at 1:27 pm

Aces on bridge – march 18, 2016, THE SUN NEWS, Myrtle Beach, SC
Dealer – south
However the bidding started with North! South had an opening hand! I read and play the bridge games daily and this is one of many errors either in printing or communication over many years.

Bobby WolffMarch 18th, 2016 at 4:40 pm

Hi Peter,
As far as I know there is no technological name for bridge sequencing to the right answer.
The answer is for declarer, at the beginning of the hand (usually before playing to trick one) and especially on what appears to be slam dunk type lines of play, to try and envision if anything could go wrong with what he intends.
If and when the declarer foresees a heart duck in today's hand, he needs to leave at least one high trump outstanding in order to preserve an extra entry to dummy to get the job done against that super defense (a diamond back into the "jaws").
The reason you and likely 99%+ of our faithful readers do not see the winning defense and thus the "winning" solution, is simply because both plays are counter intuitive to normal play.
Obviously bridge columns and the better books on bridge "deal" with this progressive and thus beautiful (at least to me) feature of our game.
No great mind gymnast needed to overcome, just one who can grasp the originality of the race and counter to the contract trick by both sides.
The fly in the ointment is only the mind flexibility necessary which almost never comes quickly until the experience gleaned (usually by playing against the better players, a defense capable of leading a diamond back at trick two in case the opening club lead is ducked). We DO NOT usually meet up with these players at the random bridge clubs, but rather later in our upward progression as we play against better and then best players.
Which leads me to the sad feeling of realizing that so many of our casual bridge players take our great game for granted and are slow to see the brilliance of what it is about. If bridge could be taught more commonly that bridge logic would prevail. And then relating the playing of good bridge to the same types of minds who develop so many successful products which benefit humankind as well as often placing a large amount of "bucks" in the inventors bank account.
The process of both is what made our country so special generations back. Let's enable bridge to be a lever to thinking "outside the box" and thus a great teaching device for youngsters.
Thanks for your comment and especially your lament. Our good country should make a concerted effort to become "great" again.

Bobby WolffMarch 18th, 2016 at 4:53 pm

Hi Dreama,
Unfortunately, although some of the errors are ours, there are other problems we are trying to overcome, such as so many of our bridge editors at various client newspapers, have never played a bridge hand themselves and so are not able to simply correct the many errors which come from passing down the column through several processes to the newspapers themselves for inclusion.
Gremlin type happenings are hard to keep out of the mix unless we have someone who plays bridge at the crucial hand setting.
Thanks for writing, and although we are aware of such sad news, we are constantly trying to fight through this problem to achieve the results to which our readers are entitled since for one reason or another (usually space limitations) words are often changed or omitted sometimes causing the aberration.