Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 15th, 2016

When you are winning a war almost everything that happens can be claimed to be right and wise.

Winston Churchill

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

*Two plus cards, 11+ HCP


The world championship encounter between Germany and Ireland at the Mind Sports Games in Lille four years ago saw Ireland win the board at both tables in the bidding, then back it up with accurate declarer play.

Where the German South passed, the Irish bid unopposed to two spades, West opening one heart and raising one spade to two – a style I wholeheartedly agree with. South started with the diamond ace then shifted belatedly to spades. Declarer, Tom Hanlon took the king with his ace, crossed to hand with a heart ruff and ran the diamond jack, pitching a club. He emerged with eight tricks.

In the other room Adam Mesbur opened the South cards, to reach three no-trump. When West led the heart six, declarer won with dummy’s king and played the diamond nine. East correctly covered with the queen, and declarer took the ace and played a spade toward the king. When the king held the trick, he played a spade to the 10 and West could do no better than win with the ace and return a spade to the queen. A heart towards the queen left West little option but to go up with the ace and exit with a heart.

Declarer won in dummy, played a diamond to the 10, cashed the diamond king, and exited with a heart to endplay West. That player had two hearts to cash, but in the three-card ending he was forced to lead a club round to the queen, and declarer had his ninth trick.

Having transferred into spades, I play that you cannot now raise to four spades (that would be a slam try, since if you just wanted to play game you would transfer initially at the four-level, a Texas Transfer). And since four diamonds now would be a natural slam try, you should bid three no-trump to offer a choice of games. Heart stoppers are for children…


♠ J 7 6 5 2
 Q J 8 7 5
♣ 10 7
South West North East
  Pass 2 NT Pass
3 Pass 3 ♠ 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 ClimieSeptember 29th, 2016 at 9:36 am

Hi Bobby,

I’m not sure the description of the play in 2S is right. Did East duck the first spade or Ace it? It may be open season on Gremlins again.



Bobby WolffSeptember 29th, 2016 at 11:14 am

Hi Iain,

Yes, no doubt another likely gaffe in the reporting.

However, perhaps North threw his king under the ace since if he ever got in (likely to North because of his rounded suit holdings), he would be able to maximize the spades by leading back allowing his partner’s Q10 to clear the suit. However East’s singleton heart thwarted that brilliancy, if, in fact, the above is true.

No doubt a far seeing play, unless one suspects such endeavors as knowing a little too much about where the cards are located.

slarOctober 1st, 2016 at 4:51 am

Way late on this one but while I can see that some systems make opening as south very shaky, it would seem to me that passing as North is too dangerous when non-vulnerable. Sure you would like a better club suit but come on. Get in there!