Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Don’t kid about Safety; you may be the goat.

Illinois Steel Company

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

*Black suits


Against six hearts West led the club 10, taken with dummy’s ace. Declarer, who had received the warning signal in the auction that one or both red suits might be breaking badly, decided not to go for overtricks by ruffing spades in hand. Instead he drew two rounds of trump by playing to the eight, then leading the queen to the ace.

On discovering the 4-1 heart division, he realized he could not overcome a 4-0 diamond break if it was West who had the diamond length. However, he saw that he could succeed when it was East who had four diamonds, by playing on diamonds before drawing any more trump. So he cashed the diamond king.

If both defenders had followed to the diamond, declarer would simply have drawn the remaining trump and claimed 12 tricks; six diamonds, four trumps and the two black aces.

However, when West discarded on the first round of diamonds, declarer continued by playing the diamond queen and ace, then ruffing the diamonds good. After drawing the remaining trump with his king and queen, declarer had his 12 tricks.

Nicely played by declarer, and no doubt he might well have followed this line even without the opponents’ bidding, but I wonder if West’s intervention was well judged. After all, he had a virtual Yarborough, his partner was a passed hand, and the vulnerability was as unattractive as possible. Sometimes you have to pick between clichés: silence is golden, and loose lips sink ships.

You could bid either red suit, and commit the hand to one suit or the other. But on a bad day partner may have either a doubleton diamond, or just three hearts, so if you do take a unilateral decision you’d better guess well. A better alternative is to bid four no-trump to show a two-suiter, planning to convert five clubs to five diamonds to show the red suits. Then partner takes the final decision.


♠ Q
 K Q 10 8
 A 9 8 5 4 3
♣ 7 4
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ Dbl. 4 ♠

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


Peter PengSeptember 15th, 2016 at 2:21 pm

hi Bobby

another saying, this one by those of Portuguese language
“Em boca fechada não entra mosca!”

(In a closed mouth flies do not enter)

I am sure there is an equivalent in English, I just do not know it.

jim2September 15th, 2016 at 2:46 pm

For the other side of the argument:

Leere Hände locken keine Falken.

(“Empty hands allure no hawks.”)

Bobby WolffSeptember 15th, 2016 at 7:17 pm

Hi Peter & Jim2,

How about, ” It is better to remain silent and thought a fool, rather than to speak out and remove all doubt”?

Bobby WolffSeptember 15th, 2016 at 7:34 pm

Hi again Peter & Jim2,

And then of course, whether it is better or not to attract a sometime dangerous hawk, one may say, “Different strokes for different folks”.

Iain ClimieSeptember 15th, 2016 at 8:42 pm

Hi Folks,

Can I add a family slant. “We’d all take a bullet for our kids; we just hope they’re not pulling the trigger.”


Bobby WolffSeptember 15th, 2016 at 9:31 pm

Hi Iain,

Might you be referring to our universal bridge family, all deliriously happy with each other?

Iain ClimieSeptember 15th, 2016 at 9:35 pm

Something like that, although look up the start of “Anna Karenina” for a pointed view of families. Or try John Cleese and Robin Skynner’s “Families and How to Survive Them”.

Cynical, moi?

Bobby WolffSeptember 15th, 2016 at 10:01 pm

Hi again Iain,

Cynical, perhaps, but my bridge family experience has only convinced me, that, as an addition to only attempting to survive them, but after then failing, it will irreversibly follow, “where there is a will, there are relatives”.