Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Accept the challenges, so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory.

General George S. Patton

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


Since the Spring Nationals are taking place this week in Reno, all the deals this week come from last year’s Nationals in New Orleans. This deal from the Educational Fund Pairs helped Pablo Lambardi and Ricardo Angeleri to victory.

Against two no-trump West led the heart six, ducked in dummy by Lambardi. East won the king and returned the suit, taken in dummy. Lambardi ran the spade jack to West’s queen. Back came a diamond to the ace and the diamond jack to the king. Since East as a passed hand had shown nine high-card points, the second spade finesse was sure to lose. Lambardi cashed the club ace and club queen, happy to find the 3-2 split. When he played off the heart queen, West discarded a spade. Now Lambardi played the club 10 to dummy’s king, on which East erred by discarding the diamond nine. In turn this brought West under pressure since he was forced to retain two spades, and thus to discard a diamond – and at that point it didn’t matter which one he threw.

He was thrown in with the diamond, giving him the choice of leading a low spade to let the spade 10 and diamond seven take the last two tricks, or of leading the spade king, to give Lambardi the last two tricks in that suit.

At the critical point in the deal, East could have prevented declarer from making the overtrick by keeping his diamond nine and letting West pitch his diamond 10.

You may think you have a good hand, but with your diamond honors clearly not pulling their full weight, you really have no more than a 15-count. Since your partner had the chance to invite game and didn’t do so, you are really not worth a raise to three spades. While it may seem cowardly to pass, I recommend that action.


♠ A 9 5 3
 Q 10 3
 K Q
♣ A Q 10 5
South West North East
Dbl. 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


Iain ClimieMarch 31st, 2016 at 1:30 pm

Hi Bobby,

A pity N/S couldn’t double 2H for penalties (from their viewpoint). South leads DK, East wins and plays a spade to the King ducked. On a heart off table, North rises with the Ace and plays a spade back to South who cashes DQ, gives North a spade ruff and gets a diamond ruff in return. CA then CK followed by North’s last diamond promotes South’s HQ for 3 off (I think).

Maybe the old fashioned big stick still has an occasional place for a side where one player opens a stong no trump, especially as East had already passed.



bobbywolffMarch 31st, 2016 at 3:29 pm

Hi Iain,

The answer to your three to the point questions are, yes, yes, and then yes.

North’s double, instead of in yesteryear being primarily for penalties, now says, “do something intelligent, partner”, of course it becomes valuable, and wards off opponents looking for more safety to compete when that double means what it used to mean, and three, once a player has passed, yes he is likely limited in his distributional values so becomes more likely prey to his should be, hungry opponents.

However, and to be fair, the newer version of double offers more opportunities for competition rather than selling out to aggressive opponents, by allowing more frequent use of the TO double.

It also allows the doubler to blame his partner more often for choosing the wrong alternative.

Not that on this hand that South might not have chosen a penalty pass, with extra defensive values, including an adequate trump holding and a maximum NT.

However, at least on this hand, the more things change, the more they don’t stay the same, or something like that, usually meaning the opposite.

Peter PengMarch 31st, 2016 at 7:54 pm

hi Bobby

Writing from memory, I watched people play this on-line, and I wrote directly on your site….

Do not remember the colors, but it does not matter.




One side bid EW to 7D, got doubled for a fair score.
The other side bid to 6H NS, and
could not make it, D lead.

But a kibitzer said it was makeable, and, even looking at all four hands, many others said he was wrong.
I did not say to the audience, but I told that kibitzer that I could not see it, and asked him to show me,

And finally, after being shown, I saw the line.

So I hope our readers enjoy this problem.

Best always


bobbywolffMarch 31st, 2016 at 9:29 pm

Hi Peter,

Yes, 6 hearts can be made and I can liken it to a 6th month old kid being asked to attempt to ride a bicycle. No, unless he was born on the planet Krypton (Superman’s fictional birthplace), it would be virtually impossible, or a possibly better way to describe it, never done before.

However as that very kid grows up and reaches 6 years old, it might be not only possible, but plausible (maybe 8 would be more realistic). So it is with bridge learning and especially ways in which to take tricks, other than by either just power or instead trumping a trick legally while having no more of the suit led.

With the above as a backdrop I’ll now leave it up to anyone who wants to try, if only because of the ones who succeed being now blessed with getting to know more about the, no doubt, beautiful game we all are allowed to play, that is, being enabled by having all the cheats forever removed, never to infest us again!!!!

jim2March 31st, 2016 at 9:50 pm

Well, I confess I saw it right away. It does depend on West having a singleton spade …. 🙂

bobbywolffMarch 31st, 2016 at 10:02 pm

Hi Jim2,

Never did I doubt for a nano-second that you would see it right away.

The problem would of course have been that East thought he had at least 6 spades, but alas only had 5. Upon further examination, that thought to be a spade, but turned out to be a 6th diamond. didn’t change until your side ventured the slam, always being prepared to be the sixth spade at all other tables, including yours, if you indeed had bid fewer.

The playing cards at your table would always pass muster athletically, even if your table was the only one which mattered.

jim2April 1st, 2016 at 1:15 am

It’s true! All of it! :-0