Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, October 1st, 2016

Little things affect little minds.

Benjamin Disraeli

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


After inspecting dummy in today’s deal, South remarked that his chances might well depend upon who held the club two. His opponents snickered, but as the play developed, it became clear that South had a valid point.

Against three no-trump, West sensibly opted for the heart jack on opening lead. East was allowed to win his top hearts, and then switched to a spade. Declarer won on the table and saw he needed to develop the clubs for a second trick.

He began by leading the club jack from the board, which East won with his ace to continue spades. He expected South to play off his club king, after which East would be left with the queen-nine over dummy’s jackfour and two more defensive tricks.

East was in for a disappointment, though, for declarer won the spade continuation on the table and continued with the club 10. This went to the queen, king and eight. All that remained for South was to force out East’s nine and establish a second club trick. In fact South, ever the showman, led the club six to dummy’s four. On winning East’s return, he cashed everything else before scoring the club three at trick 13, dropping East’s two.

South’s play works whenever East has started with four clubs including the ace, queen and two. And the action and play to the first few tricks had marked East with both high clubs. On a different day you might prefer initially to lead a low club towards the jack-10.

This is something of a crap-shoot. It would be right to balance if partner has values, whether he is long in diamonds or not. It is wrong to balance if you let the opponents find a better fit or turn a plus score into a minus. My diamond honors persuade me to pass, but with the heart queen in addition I’d consider overcalling one notrump, showing 11-15 HCP. I’d feel stronger if one or both sides were non-vulnerable.


♠ K Q 4
 6 4 3
 K J 8
♣ J 10 4 3
South West North East
  1 Pass 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


jim2October 15th, 2016 at 12:24 pm

Although it ran directly opposite to his theme, I suspect Robert Darvas would have loved today’s column hand!

bobbywolffOctober 15th, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Hi Jim2,

I get it (at least I think). However this would still be a huge positive for the club three and worth his limelight gained, though a mighty embarrassing time in bridge for the lowly club two (losing still again, but this disgraceful time to one of his ilk, only the three.

However, to counter this injustice think how the club deuce may feel when knighted by being trump can do so to an Ace, and possibly the one in spades, no less.

Not to mention of course, sometimes being a long card in no trump. We, as declarers, or sometimes as defenders, should be more aware when running a good suit to when clubs are the established suit, to lead the deuce triumphantly, ASAP.

Note: that would mean, of course, to not waste its to be valued use, while setting up that suit which is often carelessly and thus needlessly done.

And of course, name it TOCM 2, (tale of club might), possibly instead of The Salvation Army Coup (SAC).

Thanks to you, the great Hungarian, Robert Darvas, would be proud.

However, since

BobliptonOctober 16th, 2016 at 1:03 am

On the bidding problem, I also try to take into consideration the possibility that opener has only three diamonds: a 4=4=3=2 shape, which Bobby has alluded to by indicating that partner may be long in diamonds. Given the possibilities that the opponents may only have a six-card fit and the possibility that declarer has the 19-point hand, a pass becomes more attractive — although it remains risky.


bobbywolffOctober 16th, 2016 at 6:17 am

Hi Bob,

My answer, in trying to represent mainstream good players, I often hedge my responses.

In truth I think that pass is clear and anything else is nothing short of wrong. However not all agree to such “know it all” proclamations and fail to bid the first time, whether holding diamonds or not, and by doing so, are constantly putting much pressure on partner to protect.

IOW, unless partner was able to bid something even with a balanced minimum and close to opening bid strength , perhaps a 4 card major suit overcall with only AQ10x (or even weaker), then I will just exercise my right to do what I think I should, and that is ask my partner to make the opening lead.

Also Bob, your use of the word risky, should not apply here, since for us to have a biddable game would mean that there are no cows in Texas (my birth state). Moo!

BobliptonOctober 16th, 2016 at 1:43 pm

Even at the money table, a part score has a value, and you may already have one. Even if you score 40 below the line, it’s worth something; IMO far more than the 50 points it’s assigned to it MP or IMPs.

So, yes, I pass at any variation of scoring or vulnerability. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a downside risk. It’s part of what makes this game fascinating.