Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.

William Henley

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

*Transfer to hearts


On this deal from the first qualifying session of the von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs in Washington last summer, South led the club king against four hearts. The best play might be for declarer to take diamond ruffs early, but declarer got understandably greedy and played three rounds of spades at once, pitching dummy’s club.

When East ruffed in, it looked obvious to play a club. Declarer ruffed and led a trump, the fatal error, for now the defenders could win and kill the discard with a fourth spade. Declarer had to ruff high, then play three rounds of diamonds, ruffing in hand. Whatever declarer did next, East could ruff high and return a trump, killing declarer’s ruff and leaving him with a diamond loser.

For the record, Brad Coles as declarer did make the contract by playing on diamonds at trick six. He ruffed the third diamond with the eight, over-ruffed by the king. Back came a spade and Coles ruffed high in dummy East pitching a diamond.

Coles now had a complete count of the West hand as 5=1=2=5, so he ruffed a diamond low. When this could not be over-ruffed, he gave up just one trump, to claim his contract.

Have you noticed the slip on defense? East should have played back a low trump at trick five to his partner’s king, to let him lead a fourth spade. East can later over-ruff a black suit, then play back a trump to kill the second diamond ruff.

If playing transfers over a two no-trump opener you must map out a plan of campaign. Transfer first; but then sign off in game, try for slam or drive to slam? My view is that the heart intermediates make it worth a slam try. So transfer to hearts then bid diamonds, which is a natural slam try. A reasonable alternative would be to transfer then jump to four no-trump, quantitative, not Blackwood.


♠ K 3
 Q J 10 3 2
 K J 7 4
♣ 10 3
South West North East
    2 NT 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