Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Undoubtedly we have no questions to ask which are unanswerable.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

*Hearts and clubs


All the deals this week were played in the Macallan tournament in London 20 years ago. This was an invitation event, made up of 16 of the top pairs in the world, over the course of three days.

I was delighted to be able to participate in the event with Bob Hamman, along with the other members of the team that had won the 1995 world championships in Beijing. That included Richard Freeman and Nick Nickell, who were playing in their first Macallan, and they naturally took a little time to acclimatize. However, they soon found their stride, and on the following hand demonstrated an elegant route to success on defense against the par contract.

Against three clubs Freeman led the diamond king; Nickell overtook this and returned a second diamond, allowing Freeman to play a third round of the suit. The best declarer Alfredo Versace could do was to ruff high in dummy. At this point he cashed two hearts, to throw away his last diamond. Then he crossed to the spade ace and led a trump. Freeman hopped up with the king and played a fourth round of diamonds, promoting his partner’s club 10 for the fifth defensive trick.

Richard Freeman, who died a decade ago, was one of the more interesting and eccentric members of the bridge community. He had been a Quiz Kid in his youth, and despite early promise as a player in his teens, he gave up bridge to become a tournament director. When he resumed playing the game, he became a champion.

You were not planning to compete beyond the two-level. You can be pushed up one level but no more, so should not bid four spades. Can you beat four hearts? I’d expect the contract to be close but if it does make, four spades rates to be down at least two – and probably doubled, to boot. Pass out four hearts and take your chances. (If partner had opened one diamond you might well bid on, though.)


♠ A 10 9 6 3
 J 9 4 2
♣ 9 7 3
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 ♠ Dbl. 2 ♠ 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