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The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Ill ware is never cheap. Pleasing ware is half sold.

English Proverb

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



If you enjoy traveling to play bridge, consider the Gold Coast tournament in Brisbane. The event, held every February, has everything: beaches, sun, sand and restaurants, but primarily a week-long splendidly run tournament with a world-class field, as well as sections for intermediates, novices and seniors.

In a deal from the main pairs final, Griff Ware and Michael Ware — who are unrelated, but whose convention card had the players’ names as ‘AWare’ and ‘BWare’ — bid to six no-trump on a quantitative sequence after Michael, as declarer, had shown a balanced strong no-trump with four hearts.

West resisted the temptation to lead a club. While repeated heart leads might have worked out best, he led a spade and then cashed his spade ace to exit with a third spade.

Now declarer ran the remaining spades and the diamonds, and the last spade squeezed East, who knew that he had to retain four hearts, so was forced to relinquish a club. Reading the position perfectly, Ware pitched a heart from hand, then cashed the three top hearts. Finally, he decided that the combination of West’s earlier passive defense, coupled with the discard, had indicated that he held the club king. So he led the club queen to pin the jack, thereby establishing his extra club winner to emerge with a stone-cold top for his troubles.

As the bulletin from the tournament quipped, playing against one Ware is bad enough – playing against two of them must be doubly wearing.

Whether or not your three clubs promised extras (it is constructive if you play Lebensohl here), you have enough to drive to game — but which? You should bid three hearts, suggesting you need help in hearts for no-trump. You hope partner will bid three no-trump with queen-doubleton in hearts, though I admit that this may not always be the right thing to do.


♠ A 5 4
 J 9 4
 J 6 4
♣ K 9 6 2
South West North East
Pass Pass Dbl. Pass
3 ♣ Pass 3 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieJanuary 23rd, 2018 at 5:42 pm

Hi Bobby,

I recall Clyde Love (in Bridge Squeezes Complete) posing a question about this sort of hand. “Dear Emily Post, would it be OK for a defender to squirm just a little before making the key discard?”. I wonder if East should smoothly dump a heart here on the basis that he then “can’t” have 4 hearts but must have 3 or 5. After all, if South has CK (or an extra diamond) the defence has no chance of beating 6N.

Hesitating without a problem is clearly unethical; is it best to avoid this by having a think early on before the first discard, apologising to declarer by saying you’re thinking about the whole hand, and then play your discards in rythmn or is that opening up a can of worms as well? (I’ve seen it done). It is naturally one reason why fast declarer players like Zia are so difficult to cope with although I remember him always having impeccable manners as he tied us in knots in one Swiss Teams.



Iain ClimieJanuary 23rd, 2018 at 5:53 pm

PS If West held HJ109(x) or even J10x, a heart lead could be very difficult to read at the table.

Bobby WolffJanuary 23rd, 2018 at 7:20 pm

Hi Iain,

As is so often the case, your query should produce an interesting and perhaps a controversial subject.

Your comment and thus discussion of unethical conduct is pretty much universally agreed at all the higher levels of our game (as it should also be with lower levels, but, of course, is not). However, the interpretation of specifics may have justifiable different conclusions.

For what it is worth IMO all players (in the bidding four and in the play three) need to adhere to a consistent behavior of not intentionally misleading, but at the same time, and in no discernible way, giving away an advantage to his or her opponents as to the location of specific cards by physical maneuvers eg. extra fast or slow play (of course, when holding a singleton it needs to be played in tempo, certainly not slower than normal).

The twist comes that even, usually while defending, if holding a total Yarborough (not a single card making a difference except for declarer gaining an inference that then, of course, all material cards are held by one’s partner) that bereft player is under no pressure to play more quickly since he does have a playing responsibility (to his partner) to discard in a tempo that is not a giveaway to what his partner must hold.

Of course, the controversy always would appear from a declarer who thinks differently when he thinks he is entitled to extra information to which I think totally opposite–he is not!

In any event, these types of discussion are usually not ever held, only practiced and although some careers are longer than others, but I do not ever remember, at my table, with important bridge matches in the mix, that anyone ever questioned, one side or the other, the tempo of any player.

The above then leads me to believe that what is said above is basically the ethical law to be followed. Yes, as an appeals member, have had to sort out ethical disputes, but IMO have always tried to follow what I have thought to be the accepted behavior mentioned above.

Chalk it up to case law and thus precedent. However what goes on in other venues to which I am not privy, still remains unknown to me.

Jan 24, 2018 – 凝縮収斂January 24th, 2018 at 10:11 am

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