Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

We are, perhaps, unique among the earth’s creatures, the worrying animal.

Lewis Thomas

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


The three little pigs have taken to playing duplicate pairs and this board tested their skills in a tricky game contract.

At the table when the first little pig (who built his house out of straw) ended up in four spades, he received the lead of the club two. He won in dummy and took the trump finesse and was equally hurt and surprised when West led the heart queen — a thoughtful card — to his partner’s ace and received the club ruff. The second heart winner led to declarer’s defeat.

The second little pig, who built his house out of wood, saw the danger of the club ruff. He won the club in hand and took the diamond finesse, and when it held, he came to hand with the spade ace and took another diamond finesse. That let him cash the diamond ace to pitch a heart; but when he played a second spade, West could win and lead to his partner’s heart ace, to get the club ruff. That held South to 10 tricks.

The third little pig, who used bricks for his home, realized that the risk of the club ruff could be neutralized. He won the club in hand and finessed in diamonds, then came to the spade ace and finessed in diamonds again. One heart went on the diamond ace, and the second heart could be pitched on dummy’s losing diamond. West had a surprise trick, but no longer had an entry to his partner for the club ruff, so declarer had 11 tricks.

You may not have a great hand, but you do not have a compete bust. It feels to me that you can afford to bid two clubs, trying to improve the final contract, since clubs could easily be a more rewarding strain than spades. With the same hand, but with the club king instead of the three, you would have enough to jump to three clubs.


♠ 7
 A 9 4 2
 6 5 3
♣ 10 9 5 4 3
South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
1 Pass 1 ♠ 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieFebruary 14th, 2017 at 1:00 pm

HI Bobby,

Did the Wolf(f) at the 4th table look at the vulnerability when he was South and double, taking the SA at trick 1, switching to a diamond and getting 1S, 2D, 1 ruff and a club for +500?

The lead and the bidding make the hand easier to play at least with hindsight. West is most unlikely to have HAK so East has one top heart and not much else except shape and the club lead screams of a singleton. With Kx AQJxx Kx 10xxx or similar, the HA is surely coming out, despite the risk of declarer having Kx although East’s raise would be excessive then; the club (or even a diamond) could be right, but both seem very long odds against.



Jeff SFebruary 14th, 2017 at 2:40 pm

I sometimes get in trouble trying to respond when I am short on time, but can’t the final East limit South to 10 tricks by trumping his partner’s diamond winner? If South still discards the heart, E can give his partner the club ruff and if South takes the trick, it looks like he still has to give up the heart, spade, and club ruff as before.

slarFebruary 14th, 2017 at 3:23 pm

Jeff S.
I think you are on to something. It is another form of second-hand-high.

Guy SimetiFebruary 14th, 2017 at 3:25 pm

@ Jeff S

“He won the club in hand and finessed in diamonds, then came to the spade ace and finessed in diamonds again.”

At this point, East is (sadly) without a trump and he cannot ruff the final diamond.

slarFebruary 14th, 2017 at 4:19 pm


Jeff SFebruary 14th, 2017 at 6:08 pm

lol – see, this is why I should never try to respond when I am in a hurry. Thx, Guy.

bobby wolffFebruary 14th, 2017 at 6:29 pm

Hi Jeff S. Slar and Guy,

Yes, playing good bridge and analyzing it usually is worse than a jealous mistress and often requires more time than is available. Thanks for figuring it out.

bobby wolffFebruary 14th, 2017 at 6:53 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, I suppose something similar to your scenario could happen, but no one would ever know it did, since there were only three pigs and all of them related their tales.

For only the hinting of your defensive bridge story, you deserve a pork in the eye and reminds me of what some bridge player told me about the recent bridge cheating scandal in Europe, it resulted in the oft told story of Boy(e) crying Wolf(f).

However, even I must admit, that if at my table I scored up +420, and you, at another table, when playing against my teammates, scored up +500 playing B-A-M scoring, it might win a "Bad Beat" contest for "lots of money" often held at poker games, but this time at a bridge club.

Iain ClimieFebruary 14th, 2017 at 9:54 pm

HI Jeff S,

Don’t worry, you’ve got some way to go before approaching the number of “kickself” contributions I’ve put into this column over the years. I have an unerring ability to hit the Submit Comment button as (or just before) I realise what I’ve overlooked.