Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 20th, 2018

I never met any man in my life who could not bear another’s misfortunes perfectly like a Christian.

Alexander Pope

W North
None ♠ —
 A K Q
 A Q 10 6 4
♣ K 8 7 3 2
West East
♠ K Q 7 6 5 3
 7 6 4
 K 7
♣ J 6
♠ A 2
 J 10 9 3
 9 8 5 3
♣ A 10 5
♠ J 10 9 8 4
 8 5 2
 J 2
♣ Q 9 4
South West North East
  2 ♠ 3 ♠ * Dbl.
4 ♣ Pass 4 ♠ Pass
5 ♣ All pass    



One of the countries that is fast rising to prominence at the North American Championships is Turkey. Here is Turkey’s Zeynep Yilmaz at the 2014 spring competition.

Against five clubs, West led the spade king, ruffed low in dummy. Yilmaz played a low club to the five, queen and six. Unless East had started with an unlikely doubleton club ace, declarer expected two trump losers; therefore, he would require the diamond king to be onside. But Yilmaz also expected a 4-2 diamond break, not only because that is the most likely distribution in abstract within the suit, but also because of West’s known six-card spade suit.

To come home in his game, he would need to be able to ruff the third round of diamonds with his club nine. Therefore East had to hold the doubleton club ace, or West must have begun with the doubleton club jack.

When Yilmaz advanced the diamond jack, it was covered by the king and ace. Yilmaz now played a low trump from dummy. East could not afford to rise with the ace and return a trump, as he would give up his second trump trick in the process. So he followed with the 10, won by West with the jack. Whatever West returned would be won in dummy, and a diamond could safely be ruffed with the trump nine.

Note that, in theory, it doesn’t help West to unblock the trump jack under the queen, since declarer could change tack and ruff a diamond high before playing the second trump.

A double here by you is for take-out. Yes, you might have more shape or even more values than this for the call, but in any form of scoring, you want to get back into the auction when the opponents have found a fit at a low level. You hope that if your partner bids, he will have either a sixth spade or a second suit. If not, a 4-3 fit should play just fine.


♠ A 2
 J 10 9 3
 9 8 5 3
♣ A 10 5
South West North East
  1 ♣ 1 ♠ 2 ♣

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 WarheitMay 4th, 2018 at 9:11 am

How about: ruff the opening S lead and lead the CK? E has to win the A. The rest is obvious, say SA which you ruff, CQ, DJ covered, two more D and a D ruff, cross to a H and the rest are yours except for the high C. This seems much simpler than Mr. Yilmaz’s line.

David WarheitMay 4th, 2018 at 9:16 am

Sorry, my line is not only simpler but better. Why? Suppose the CJ & 10 are reversed? Now Mr. Yilmaz’s line fails.

jim2May 4th, 2018 at 12:10 pm

The column line wins — as stated in the text — when East has a doubleton AC and the KD is offside.

A V Ramana RaoMay 4th, 2018 at 12:22 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Just thinking loud. Is there a way to reach 3 NT by south which makes on a normal spade lead or any other lead except when west becomes clairvoyant and leads a heart. ( or east after winning spade A leads a heart which perhaps would be farfetched as south of course can drop nine or ten on A of spades)

David WarheitMay 4th, 2018 at 2:55 pm

Jim2: yes, but you omit the column line’s analysis of your suggested line: “unlikely”. Whereas, how unlikely is it that the CJ & 10 are reversed? I would note that the bidding and the play to the first trick mark E with the SA, leaving W with a pretty chintzy S suit, thereby greatly increasing the chances that he had something else to cause him to open the bidding with 2S, and that something can only be the DK.

jim2May 4th, 2018 at 6:57 pm

I will leave it to others to calculate which is more likely.

bobbywolffMay 5th, 2018 at 12:34 pm

Hi David & Jim2,

And I would not accept being chosen to choose which I favored, since in these present days of preferring opening preempts to meekly passing (a practice to which I agree), it is extremely close between choices, rendering my opinion (also my guess, anyone other also) and not worth the attempt at doing (although many may enjoy being asked to referee).

However, the good news is that the bridge thoughts necessary to help arrive at some sort of an opinion, are valuable within themselves, if, for no other reason, of stimulating the thinking necessary to move up the ladder of success.