Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, April 17th, 2017

For when the One Great Scorer comes,
To write against your name
He marks – not that you won or lost –
But how you played the game.

Grantland Rice

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


All the deals this week come from the Cavendish tournament, where a series of Invitation Pair games were played annually in Las Vegas from the mid-nineties through till just a couple of years ago. The event has now moved to Monaco.

Today’s deal shows that sometimes the most innocent of deals produce swings. The late Guido Ferraro played the normal game of four hearts on a top diamond lead. That looks comfortable enough does it not, just looking at the North-South cards? Eddie Wold led a top diamond, then shifted to the club king. Ferraro won and took the spade finesse (wouldn’t you?)

Now Wold won and led a second top diamond, forcing Ferraro to ruff in dummy – or so he thought. But at this point declarer was stuck in dummy. He could only lead hearts or clubs, so now one defender could get a ruff in one suit and eventually give his partner a ruff in the other. Down one — and it’s hard to see that declarer did anything wrong. The alternative line of cashing the spades from the top might fail if trumps are four-one, so what else could declarer have done?

The strange thing is that if declarer had not ruffed the second diamond, he would have been in position to overtake dummy’s remaining trump and make 10 tricks.

As the original reporter noted in passing, declarer had nine winning discards from dummy and only one losing option. To reject your 90 percent winning odds is never a good idea at Las Vegas.

Few of us are sufficiently gifted with psychic talent to think we might guess the killing lead here. Since all four suits could be right, let’s play the percentages and find the lead that combines a reasonable degree of safety with being as likely as anything to hit partner. For me, that is the diamond jack, which may avoid costing a trick when it is wrong.


♠ J 6 5
 Q 9 2
 J 10 8
♣ K 8 3 2
South West North East
      1 NT
Pass 3 NT All 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