Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

Only a Hungarian can go into a revolving door behind you and come out in front of you.


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


This year marks the centenary of the birth of a bridge player who was better known as a prose writer, translator and mathematician. His name was Geza Ottlik, and he classified many hitherto unrecognized positions in bridge. “Adventures in Card Play” is one of bridge’s more fascinating and complex books.

Here is a deal he created for the Budapest 1977 Junior Camp. He called it “Find the Lad,” in contrast to “Find the Lady.”

Against four hearts, West leads the spade five, and East plays the queen. With inevitable spade and club losers, you would like to hold your trump losers to one. It helps to be a good guesser, but are there are any clues or other pieces of information you need to process?

If you go after trumps on your own, you will surely lose two tricks in the suit today. Instead, you should try to avoid guessing trumps altogether. If the club king is onside, you may not need to open up the trump suit at all.

Return a spade at trick two, win the diamond shift at trick three, then play the second top diamond and ruff a diamond with the heart seven. Next you ruff a spade, as East pitches a diamond, then you advance the club jack and run it if West does not cover. But let’s say he does cover: If so, you ruff yet another spade, cash your remaining club honor and cut loose with your last club. In the three-card ending with just trumps in both hands, the opponents must find the trump jack for you.

You may not have any guarantee that acting is safe, but your shape suggests that it is sensible to balance now with a call of two no-trump. This shows the minors, just as it would if you had bid directly over one heart. Whenever the opponents have a decent fit, as they appear to have here, your side should have at least an eight-card fit as well, so bidding two no-trump carries very little risk.


♠ K Q
 Q 9 7 5 3
♣ 10 9 7 4 3
South West North East
Pass 2 Pass 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


David WarheitFebruary 7th, 2018 at 9:16 am

Better known as “The Doggy Coup”. At trick 11, instead of giving you a ruff-sluff, the opponents can give you a ruff-ruff.

bobbywolffFebruary 7th, 2018 at 1:24 pm

Hi David,

And to stamp “perfect” to your new coup, just the melody and timing of your appropriate name will create “puppy love”.

Like composer Richard Rogers and lyricist, dramatist Oscar Hammerstein might have said, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning”. “I will be dog gone, the bridge to success, because my side’s ruffs come 2nd & 4th, not 1st and 3rd”!

ClarksburgFebruary 7th, 2018 at 6:05 pm

You both showed much Curage to go there.
Ruff by 1st is very rare. I saw it once, but it was out of turn. The Director was an Eager- beaver Retriever, who unleashed his judgement and made the right ruling.

JudyFebruary 7th, 2018 at 6:21 pm

Sensationally clever plays on words!

bobbywolffFebruary 7th, 2018 at 7:06 pm

Hi David, Clarksburg & Judy,

Hot dog David, Clarksburg and directly Judy, belying yours and mine combined ages of 169 people, not dog years, loudly barking, while teaching us new tricks may require dogged energy to overcome being dog-tired by our playful attempt at doggedly avoiding a dogeared version of dog’gone good declarer play. No doubt a real, high-level WWII dog’fight! Perhaps going to the dogs can be positive or, at least, more humane than being wolfed down.