Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Switzerland would make a mighty big place if it were ironed flat.

Mark Twain

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


Jean Besse was Switzerland’s greatest bridge player, who wrote intelligently about the theory of the game. In one article he referred to the irrelevant small cards as neutrinos and explained how you had to be careful not to give away unnecessary information to declarer to allow him to count out your hand by voiding yourself prematurely in a suit.

This deal from the 1993 Epson Simultaneous Pairs (held at the top of the Post Office Tower in London) demonstrates the principle to good effect.

When North-South reached six no-trump, West elected to make a passive heart lead. Declarer cashed the club ace and king, then ran the hearts as East discarded diamonds. West threw three diamonds, and now declarer played a spade to the queen and king. West carefully returned a low club and declarer misguessed by inserting the queen, East throwing a spade, and South a diamond.

So far so bad, but at this point the diamond ace forced a spade out of West. Declarer now knew that both defenders only had one spade left, since East was guarding diamonds and West clubs. He could thus play a spade to his ace in complete confidence, and drop West’s jack.

Did you note West’s error? Since she was going to have to pitch a spade sooner or later, it would have been right to discard it on the sixth heart. Then declarer does not get the complete count on diamonds and eventually has to guess spades.

This is a hand where slam might be laydown or 10 tricks might be the limit. You have too much to go quietly and settle for game, but start with a game-try of three diamonds (yes this is forcing) to see whether partner can co-operate. If not, settle for game.


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