Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 24th, 2016

We cannot expect people to have respect for law and order until we teach respect to those we have entrusted to enforce those laws.

Hunter S. Thompson

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



Have a look at today’s problem, from the 2015 European Open Championships. When the diamond four was led against six no-trump, declarer tried to preserve his entry to hand by rising with dummy’s ace. Whether or not this was right in theory, when East followed with the jack, declarer may have started to regret his decision.

Declarer next cashed the clubs, learning West had begun with one and East with four. West discarded two diamonds and two hearts, East threw a spade. On the run of the spades declarer discovered that West had started with two and East with five.

In the four-card ending as South cashed dummy’s last spade he had to decide if it was East or West held the heart ace. If the former, South should pitch a diamond from hand and play a heart to the king. If West had the heart ace, South had to discard a heart from hand and throw West in with a heart, forcing that player to lead into the diamond tenace.

So who has the heart ace and why? Well, assuming East is a competent defender he would not have discarded a spade on the fifth club if he had the heart ace. That way he could have defeated the contract by retaining his spade winner for the three-card ending. So West is favorite to hold the heart ace.

Richard Ritmeijer for team Orange Red declared six no-trump and found the winning play in the four-card ending. This was only a small pick-up, though, since his opponents had bid and made six clubs.

When dealing with very strong hands, your rebid may be affected by whether your partner’s response has improved your hand or made it worse. Here your partner bidding your shortage has made your hand worse not better. Settle for a simple call of one spade – you can show your extras at your next turn, if any.


♠ K Q 10 7
 A 10 7
♣ A K J 8 5
South West North East
1 ♣ Pass 1 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 ClimieJuly 8th, 2016 at 5:42 pm

Hi Bobby,

In 6C by North what would you say is the best single dummy line after HQ and then maybe another heart? It might be tempting to draw 2 trumps with the CAK then play 3 rounds of spades shedding a diamond, intending to ruff a diamond high, but West’s discard on the 2nd trump messes that up. Any thoughts here? I realise it is trivial double dummy, but life isn’t like that.



bobbywolffJuly 9th, 2016 at 5:28 am

Hi Iain,

Methinks the best line at 6 clubs (N) would be to ruff the 2 heart and then play two high clubs from hand with, of course, the intention of (with clubs 3-2) three rounds of spades throwing a diamond and then 3 rounds or diamonds ruffing high.

However, as you suggest the 4-1 club break forces either a very luck diamond holding (guessed at that, or probably more likely a heart diamond squeeze (probably cover the second heart hoping the opening leader had the 10 of hearts and the Queen Jack of diamonds,

Bridge can be and often is very unfair for 6 NT to make and 6 clubs to fail, but it could happen here. Of course E will count out with 5 spades and 4 clubs, so the byplay in hearts when the second heart is covered (assuming the jack is continued which needs to be led) for declarer to glean East had another heart, instead of the diamond queen.

And the beat goes on with guessing card layouts, the REAL hallmark of the best players.

bobbywolffJuly 9th, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Hi Iain,

Upon reflection from only now re-reading how I answered your question last night, you had proposed the same “best” line of play, so either too many cooks spoil the broth or we agree, which, whether that is a good or bad thing we are stuck with it.

As to the emotional factors in the playing of our great game, it seems that most players prefer “right” lines of play (and also correct defenses) to prevail. However, and I will call them rascals, some would rather have unique, but not percentage lines to instead, succeed.

Perhaps rascals are then blessed with higher “highs”, but I prefer non-rascals as my partner.

Iain ClimieJuly 9th, 2016 at 8:38 pm

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for this, although my choice of line sometimes depends on my partner. Some partners are happy if I’ve taken the best line, others are total results merchants. I’m not naming names!


bobbywolffJuly 9th, 2016 at 9:19 pm

Hi Iain,

Unbelievable! Certainly no one plays results in bridge. Everyone is happy with whatever happens, since all are only interested in playing the game correctly, no matter who wins or loses.

Right? Right!

JasonJuly 12th, 2016 at 5:21 pm

One of my own peers, Pickering, described it ideal when he explained, “How am I likely to feel there is You can request a call back from their shopper team who seem to help you make the best decision before you apply.