Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger.

Franklin P. Jones

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

*Two keycards and the trump queen


The first board of the 2015 Tromso Mixed Teams saw Roy Welland drive his partner Sabine Auken to a delicate slam, and let her try to make it. I have simplified their auction. In real life a club lead would have defeated the contract, but that was not obvious to anyone during the bidding.

In six hearts Auken received the lead of the diamond five, which went to the three, the queen and her ace. She then played a heart to dummy’s jack and East’s ace. That player now returned another diamond, though even at this point a club return to dummy’s ace might still set the contract, since declarer does not yet know about the 4-1 trump split.

Anyway, after the diamond return Sabine won with the king and continued with the heart king. When East showed out, she could now continue with a club to the ace to take the heart finesse. When declarer then played off all her trumps, West was squeezed in three suits. That meant 12 tricks to declarer and 11 IMPs to Welland’s team, since his teammates defended game in the other room.

Incidentally, that declarer also received a diamond lead. His next move was to play the heart queen from hand. Now if East wins this, the heart jack is the entry for the trump finesse. If East ducks the ace, a low heart to dummy’s jack will reveal the trump split while the club ace is still in dummy as the entry to take the trump finesse and execute the same squeeze.

This sort of hand provokes considerable discussion: should you rebid two clubs, to show your basic shape, or should you bid one no-trump to limit your hand as a balanced 12-14? Either approach is basically acceptable, given how good your doubleton diamond is. Were that not so, the two club rebid would be preferable. Even as it is, I prefer to bid the second suit here.


♠ J 2
 K Q 9 6 3
 A K
♣ J 9 6 4
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


Bill CubleyJuly 28th, 2016 at 2:01 pm

Very good quote. I wonder if the author uses the who has the car key rule, too.

bobbywolffJuly 28th, 2016 at 2:29 pm

Hi Bill,

Ah yes! Especially at bridge and with good partnerships, when there is judgment involved and the wrong opening lead is chosen it is necessary, not just preferred, for his or her partner, to pretend not to notice, although everyone at the table, and later one’s teammates and what may seem like the whole bridge world, will learn.

That is the time to be compassionate, since sooner or later you will be victimized by likely doing the same thing. Opening leads being blind (but not deaf) sometimes require fortune tellers and honest players, as good as they may be, never have anywhere near perfect records since by all that is written and felt, is by some distance, the most difficult part of the expert game.

Recognizing that plight sometimes takes time, but until one does, he is still in the elevator, hopefully going up, but opening one’s mouth, especially immediately after it happens should be mentioned by Ms. Manners as certainly a no no even in intended social conversations, but ALWAYS in high-level bridge.

Bill CubleyJuly 29th, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Last night I watched a top player miscount a hand as declarer in the Spingold. He was playing a Moysian diamond partial which makes on taking a first round finesse of the jack. I really expected him to get right. He had known long spades and three hearts on his right.

Maybe I will be easier on my own errors. I truly miss reading Miss Manners column and her thoughts that getting married does not equal extortion of friends.

bobbywolffJuly 29th, 2016 at 2:39 pm

Hi Bill,

Yes, the above column hand and your kibitzing experience of last night makes for difficulty in understanding what really constitutes a top player.

At least to me, no really very good player would ever go down on this column hand, leading to the conclusion that there are more wannabes out there than the real thing.

And what about someone or probably better said, an aspiring partnership, trying to develop and then maintain an undeserved “better than they actually are” reputation with professional bridge money beckoning them on and one begins to understand this proliferation of cheating and why it occurred.

Sometimes, compared to real life when so many wars have developed because of nations then people within, becoming dissatisfied (and jealous) of other nation’s success, and bam, bam, bam.

Real, yes, life, no doubt, bridge, suspected, all likely sadly true, but perhaps beginning to understand.

At least to me, it is not difficult to see and thus determine which bridge partnerships are already world class and by the same token how many have a great distance to go, likely never to get there.

If only human nature would not drive those few to criminal means in order to attempt to be something they are not. Success in life becomes a game of sticking to what one does well and not trying to overstep ones talent.

Good for talking about, but sheer hell trying to do something about.