Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, February 5th, 2018

The awful daring of a moment’s surrender.

T. S. Eliot

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


In today’s deal, three no-trump would be the easiest game to make, since you have nine fast winners. However, you would appear to have excellent chances of overtricks in four hearts after a top spade lead.

South should win the spade ace and commence drawing trumps. The play would be straightforward if trumps broke 3-2: Declarer would draw them all, then play on diamonds. But when West shows out on the second round of hearts, South must change tack immediately.

Instead, South must turn his attention to diamonds, leaving dummy’s last trump as a bulwark against the enemy’s spades. The opponents are welcome to take their two top diamonds and one diamond ruff.

Not surprisingly, West continues the force on declarer when he wins the first diamond. South must ruff, but then can knock out the second top diamond. The next spade ruff leaves him with one fewer trump than East, but declarer simply leads a third diamond, allowing East to ruff in. Now whether East plays back a club, spade or trump, declarer has the rest.

Note that if South draws all of East’s trumps at once, the defenders would force him on winning the first diamond. They could then take the rest of their spades when they regained the lead. South would go down in similar fashion even if he drew only three rounds of trumps. The same defense would mean that South would run out of trumps before he could set up the diamond trick he needed for his game.

The opponents’ auction suggests they have few values to spare. Should you lead aggressively with a club intermediate, or the top of a doubleton diamond, or go passive with a spade from your four small? I’m going to go passive here, worried that a club or diamond lead could cost the setting trick too easily. The spade two seems like the right card here.


♠ 10 8 6 2
 Q 10 3
 J 8
♣ Q 10 9 2
South West North East
Pass 2 ♣ Pass 2 NT
Pass 4 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Mircea1February 19th, 2018 at 2:43 pm

Bobby, Iain and Clarksburg

I think I can speak in the name of all aspiring bridge players, readers or not of this blog, to thank you all for coming up with the comments in yesterday’s column. I’ve been reading this blog almost daily for the last few years, and I think these are the best comments I’ve seen (so far)

Bobby, I hope you don’t get tired of too many accolades and thank you notes but THANK YOU for ….all

Iain and Clarksburg, we have to devise a plan to convince Bobby to write more stuff like this and compile it into a collection available for the posterity. I have a decent size selection of bridge books, about a hundred of them, of which I read more than half. With very, very few exceptions you find advice like what was presented here, in any of them. For the most part, they are all technical in nature, which is OK, but we all know that our game is so much more than that.

In case my message is not clear, we need to convince Bobby to write a book, or at least draft the text for it. Judging from the extent of his replies to our comments, he seems to enjoy doing it. Perhaps all is needed is more questions from us. If you agree, we could take care of the rest. I’m certainly willing to pitch in my contribution, whichever form it takes.

Let me know what you think.

PS: my secret wish is to get Judy on our side in convincing Bobby that is not a crazy idea of a guy with a weird name from Canada

Iain ClimieFebruary 19th, 2018 at 3:13 pm

Hi Mircea1,

Thanks for the kind comment but all I did was set the ball rolling – Bobby did all the work. Perhaps there is more in Bobby’s autobiography and I remember reading Alan Sontag’s “The Bridge Bum” years ago where he described a disaster when playing with Peter Weichsel and how we fought inwardly (and succeeded) in not saying everything that was going through his head. Perhaps the only thing I can usefully say off the top of my head is that things WILL go wrong in a session so don’t treat it as a total surprise and make sure you pick partner up if it was their fault and apologise then knuckle down if it is yours. If it isn’t clear whose fault it was (or if you’ve been fixed) you somehow have to leave it until later. At one stage I had weekly sessions with 1 guy where the 1st board just went wrong and it soon turned into a joke before picking up the hand – “What do you reckon, then: Minus 730, missing a cold game, totally wrong lead, minus 800 on a part score or what?”

Maurice Harrison Gray, a famous British player from the 1940s to 60s had a nice comment, though: A pair of mutually admiring and supportive sound players will probably do much better than a pair of bickering experts! Also, have a look at the collected set of BOLS bridge tips as some are non technical.



Iain ClimieFebruary 19th, 2018 at 4:00 pm

PS See also Rudyard Kipling’s “If…” I’ve never had a bridge partner like that (or been one) either.

A V Ramana RaoFebruary 19th, 2018 at 4:08 pm

Hi all
Excellent idea & if something is needed you can count me in
” Gardening needs lot of water. Most of it in the form of perspiration”

Bobby WolffFebruary 19th, 2018 at 6:04 pm

Hi Mircea1,

A thousand expressions of thank you for both your extremely kind words and the confidence you display by wanting me to chronicle winning bridge tips, methods, and anecdotes in a future high-level book.

While writing a worthwhile bridge book brings enough satisfaction in itself, via my experience involved in writing my one and only “The Lone Wolff” and convinces me that to do it right, and at my age, is just not a practical thing to do.

Why?, you may ask, with my answer being, that I have made many enemies in relating so many nefarious episodes and scams (all 100% true) through the years which in actuality, have kept our great game from achieving the world wide popularity it so richly deserves.

In addition, I am vitally interested in righting the wrong with bridge history (1950s-1980s)
which a new expose, thoroughly researched and presented by an astute Australian .. has been completed and about to be published and therein released, chronicling a not-so-secret horror which, I hope, will forever silence the widespread, not knowing and worse, non-believing, worldwide bridge community.

However, might it not be possible, to put together, by the use of archives on this site and through the significant years, a sampling of worthwhile bridge questions and answers which may in fact, accomplish the goal you seek. If so, I would be pleased to help organize such a venture and to proofread and likely improve the content.

However, to instead do as you now suggest, and again, at my age, would be just too great a task, since the appreciation of high-level bridge is such a jealous mistress, necessary to be exactly right and not speak in less than 100% truths.

IOW, perhaps a short cut version of your “dream” may possibly be the answer. Finally, I am not interested in making a penny in this project and would be very pleased to allow someone qualified (and bridge loving) to reap the reward (assuming there would be one).

Bobby WolffFebruary 19th, 2018 at 6:17 pm

Hi Iain,

Thanks for your vibrant comments.

Possibly by coincidence, but likely because we are both attracted to the same kind of feeling and therefore thinking, Rudyard Kipling’s incredible composition in verse, “If”, has been my favorite poem ever.

BTW, my bridge temper has, likewise to you, betrayed me from time to too many times.

Bobby WolffFebruary 19th, 2018 at 6:28 pm


Thanks for your vote of confidence.

Unlike the late and great comedian Jimmy Durante used as his calling card, “I’m surrounded by assassins”, I instead feel, surrounded by love.

And in the form of perspiration would imply, the gardening, even on a frigid day.

DarwinFebruary 19th, 2018 at 6:47 pm


I miss Judy’s blogs. Hope all is well with the two of you.

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 19th, 2018 at 8:40 pm

Hi Darwin,

Flattered you miss my blogs. I miss you and Kay and all the fond memories we shared.

Although Bobby, as you can see, is quite active daily on this site .. our days of bridge traveling are sadly behind us.

As to the absence from my site: I will be posting something soon about the April Sectional at the incredible Plaza Hotel .. on Fremont .. far from the maddening Strip! Unbelievable room rates and free parking. Great facilities and eateries.

I usually post about interesting bridge happenings. With so many changes being made, it is hard to find something positive. Instead of all the shenanigans rampant on the current scene .. the ACBL should give ‘their all’ to introducing teaching bridge here in Zone 2 as Bobby fostered it in China, starting in the 90s. We have about 170,000 members (give or take) in the ACBL .. BUT .. can you imagine 200,000,000 (YES .. TWO HUNDRED MILLION) children playing bridge in China now and their results get better and better.

Sorry for the rant .. but you know me long enough to know .. I tell it like it is.

Love to you and Kay,


Iain ClimieFebruary 19th, 2018 at 9:59 pm

Hi again Bobby,

As a follow-up to AVRR, can I add one for bad contracts: “If I clutch at enough straws I can build a raft” (it’ll probably sink, mind you…)


ClarksburgFebruary 19th, 2018 at 10:45 pm

I have very extensive file notes, which I call ‘Bobbyisms’, compiled over the years for my own use. All filed in an organized file structure, by topic and sub-topic.
Mircea, if you have a sample “question” let me know; chances are I’ll have something relevant.
No time now, but I will check in to these comments here tomorrow.

Mircea1February 20th, 2018 at 1:27 pm


This is awesome! …and the title, too! I like ‘Bobbyisms’

We could do an e-book. From what I read about them, they’re quite easy to do and the costs are minimal. We need to sort through the material, get Bobby to proof read and approve it and we should be good to go.

Please let me know what you think about the idea.

ClarksburgFebruary 20th, 2018 at 4:14 pm

Important to note that the “blog archives” (right-hand sidebar on the blog page) go back to 2009. That has everything!! Perhaps there’s some way to “point / direct /guide” large numbers of people to that ??
What I have is more or less limited to my own interests; often where I have asked a question and gotten a reply. Much on methods, hand-evaluation, judgement etc. and generally “how to compete”. Very little on card play, which of course is the real “main course” on this blog with several expert contributors.

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