Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, March 21st, 2016

Mathematics is the supreme judge; from its decisions there is no appeal.

Tobias Dantzig

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

*Game-forcing with heart support

**Short clubs


In today’s auction, after the Jacoby two no-trump trump raise South can show a singleton club. After this, an exchange of cuebids lets South use keycard and drive to slam.

South’s first chance for the slam is to find the trump finesse working. But this attempt fails when he wins the club ace in dummy at trick one and loses a trick to the heart king. His chances of success now hinge on locating the diamond queen.

After ruffing the second club, there is no need to play on diamonds early. Instead, South carefully tackles the black suits first. He takes the spade ace at trick four, crosses to the spade king to ruff a spade high, then leads a second trump to dummy to ruff a second club.

After eight tricks he knows that West started with only two spades and only two hearts. It is clear, therefore, that West started with a total of nine cards in clubs and diamonds. West’s opening lead was the club three; and he later led back the two, suggesting a five-card suit. But whether West is being honest or not, East has at least three clubs, so West cannot hold more than six.

If only five of West’s cards are clubs, he surely held four diamonds to begin with. If West had six, he has three diamonds. Either way, West is longer in diamonds than East.

South therefore cashes the diamond ace to take out what he presumes to be East’s singleton diamond. He can then confidently finesse through West for the diamond queen.

Where partner is known to have real length (as opposed to when he opens with a minor) you need a good reason to lead something else. You do not have that reason today – no other suit looks better than a gamble. Lead your spade, and let declarer open up the other suits.


♠ 7
 Q 10 3 2
 Q 10 5 4
♣ J 9 6 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♠ Dbl.
Pass 2 ♣ Pass 2 NT
All 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


Joe1April 5th, 2016 at 1:42 am

Regarding the quote: the book by Morris Kline: “mathematics, the loss of certainty”. 1980. Very depressing when I was 24. Even mathematics has wiggle room. Physics with quantum mechanics, and now math also with ambiguity. The horror. Fortunately then I discovered Victor Molo’s “bridge in the fourth dimension” and the world was made right again (I think). How to harness magic, like the hog, rabbit, and friends.

bobbywolffApril 5th, 2016 at 4:00 am

Hi Joe1,

Perhaps your hidden meaning is simply, love and sense of humor conquer all foes and, if so, I, for one stand beside you 100%.

Bridge is the vehicle, Victor is the director, his menagerie are the main actors, folly is the mood, and to quote you, “harnessing magic” is the discipline.