Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 13th, 2016

When men drink, then they are rich and successful and win lawsuits and are happy and help their friends.


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


**Four hearts and three spades


The Bermuda Bowl in Chennai last October saw a deal where only three declarers in four spades or three no-trump succeeded. Curiously, two of them came from the same country, Pakistan.

Four spades is virtually sure to fail – except on a club lead, since declarer will lose three fast tricks in the red suits and has a slow club loser. Three no-trump looks little better, but when Roshan Bokhari received a diamond lead, declarer ducked twice and won the third, leaving East with the master diamond. Then she cashed two spades ending in dummy and successfully ran the club queen. Once it held she ran the rest of the spades, to squeeze both opponents, who each had to keep two clubs in the four-card ending.

On the last spade East could not afford to discard her winning diamond or declarer would play on hearts and she would eventually find herself endplayed to lead clubs. She took what was probably her best shot to mislead declarer by pitching a club, hoping declarer would believe she still had the guarded club king left. But declarer led a club to her ace, and cashed a club winner for her ninth trick.

The other successful declarers had an easier task. After the same start, one East came down to the bare heart king together with his diamond winner, and was endplayed to lead clubs into dummy’s tenace, when declarer exited with a heart. The other East made declarer’s task even simpler when he covered the first club, exposing his partner’s 10 to a finesse.

The world is divided into those who ignore the possibility of playing a minor here, and those who are prepared to explore every option, at the risk of giving away information. The former bid three no-trump to offer a choice of spades or notrump, the latter bid three clubs. My spade spots tempt me to the former position.


♠ A Q 10 7 5
 J 3
 9 5
♣ Q J 9 8
South West North East
  Pass 1 NT Pass
2 Pass 2 ♠ 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 ClimieOctober 27th, 2016 at 11:08 am

Hi Bobby,

Is the analysis that east can’t shed a diamond right (or maybe complete). East can let a heart and a diamond go on the spades and knows declarer has 5S, 2C, 1D so not the HA. Potentially he could rise with the HK, play a heart to the Ace for West to cash a diamond.

West may have hit problems first, though – 2H can be shed but then what? Double dummy West can’t shed a club but South has 2 discards to find. Can west keep 3H and no diamonds if south reduces to 2hearts and shed a club if south bares the CA?

I may be missing something especially as David is usually quick to spot any problems. Any thoughts?



Iain ClimieOctober 27th, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Sorry, west can’t let 2 hearts go but a heart and a diamond. Now east sheds a D on the last spade a d South is H-C squeezed before west.


bobby wolffOctober 27th, 2016 at 2:35 pm

Hi Iain,

A very constructive analysis, though ultra tedious.

Perhaps a little known general fact is that when both defenders, as here, are required to keep two clubs the declarer usually prevails (defense has too much responsibility and not enough room in their hands to win out).

However, the usual possible winning defense is, again as this hand an example, is for one player or the other to as early as possible see it coming and discard a club, leaving declarer to have to make a winning guess.

As readers may suspect, a late club discard will be far more revealing than one made earlier. Therefore the brilliant defense by one defender or the other, is to foresee the ending and simply make declarer’s task more difficult for him (encouraging the declarer to think clubs were originally 4-2).

Certainly not simple, nor naturally fluid, but only, at least (in my experience) and up to now
only accomplished by the best of World Class partnerships. IOW, worth considering and then applying, but requires both partners to be extremely adept at visualizing declarers exact distribution and therefore eventual “guess” at the death and together combine to make it as difficult as possible for him to read it right.

Perhaps the reward for so doing is as “good as it gets” for a bridge defensive partnership, especially while playing against a very clever declarer.

Iain ClimieOctober 27th, 2016 at 2:41 pm

Hi Bobby,

Isn’t South’s hand shape known at T3, though? The defence has a huge edge as a result.


slarOctober 27th, 2016 at 3:33 pm

BWTA: One of the worst feelings is going down 1 in 5m when 3NT rolls. Of course last night both contracts were down 1. Both hands had two small spades and the necessary side finesse failed. Oh well!

bobby wolffOctober 29th, 2016 at 2:30 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes 4 triple 3 is a common scourge perpetrated by Dame Fortune on her enemies. We all learn that cunning women are dangerous adversaries.

bobby wolffOctober 29th, 2016 at 2:38 pm

Hi Slar,

A two trick difference in how many tricks are required for success should get one’s attention.

Also, do not forget that an opening leader vs. NT is much more loose with his choices in order to establish enough later tricks for a set, making that two trick difference at times, even larger.

However that is sometimes (often) counterbalanced by the loss of protection to which naming trumps cater.