Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Happiness is like those palaces in fairy tales whose gates are guarded by dragons: we must fight in order to conquer it.

Alexandre Dumas

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


Goldilocks has taken over running the weekly duplicate in the forest. She also organizes a seminar after the game, where experts can discuss the trickier deals.

Today’s hand was the subject for some discussion amongst the Three Bears. Papa Bear had declared four spades on repeated diamond leads. He ruffed the second diamond and drew four rounds of trumps, then played a club. West ducked the first and second club, and now declarer could not avoid forcing himself, so the hand fell to pieces.

By contrast, Mama Bear drew trump, it taking four rounds to do so, and during the course of this, discarded dummy’s club king and queen. She still found herself in trouble, though, as West’s club spots were fractionally too good for her. West captured the club jack with the ace and returned a diamond, ruffed by South with her last trump. But when the clubs failed to run, eight tricks was the limit of the hand.

Baby Bear appreciated that the missing clubs were more likely than not to break 4-2. He played a club to dummy at his first opportunity – which was at trick three. It would have been well against the odds to find clubs breaking 5-1 or 6-0, when the defenders could have maneuvered a ruff.

When West won the club ace and forced declarer again, declarer could draw trumps, meanwhile discarding dummy’s blocking second club. Now 10 tricks were easy. Equally, had West ducked the first club, declarer would simply have drawn trumps, discarding the club, as before.

Bidding with hands of this sort is not (nor should it be) an exact science. If I had to guess, I’d take a shot at four spades, no matter what the vulnerability. The idea is that the less space the opponents have to get together, the better. This action doesn’t have to work, but there seems no point in mentioning your clubs – does there?


♠ A K Q J 10 6
♣ J 10 9 7 5
South West North East
  Pass Pass 1

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