Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 25th, 2018

I’ve been in office and I’ve been out of office. And if I were to choose, I’d rather be in office.

Jerry Brown

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



The England women have been consistently successful over the last decade fielding a partnership still in their 20s. Fiona Brown is originally from Australia, but has been living in the U.K. for over 10 years. She played with Susan Stockdale first in junior events, then in women’s events.

Here is Stockdale at work. Declaring four spades, she won the heart lead in dummy to play a spade to the ace (not best, but far from silly), and led her diamond. West won and continued diamonds, letting Stockdale finesse the jack. Next came dummy’s diamond king, on which East pitched her heart. (It would have been better to pitch a club, then shift to hearts at her next turn.) Stockdale discarded a second club on the diamond king and now led a trump. East won the spade queen and played back a top club, which Stockdale ducked. She won the next club, then played the last trump to squeeze West in the red suits for her contract.

For the record, declarer might have cashed the spade king and played a second trump after winning the diamond jack. When East wins and returns a spade, it squeezes West down to one club. Then declarer cashes the club ace, leads the heart seven to the ace, takes the heart queen and leads the heart three to West, forcing a diamond return into dummy’s king-10.

If South forgets to play the heart seven early, West can unblock in hearts to leave South on lead, to concede two club tricks to East.

You may have a dead-minimum hand, but you do have extra shape, and your partner has volunteered a call, so he won’t have a complete bust. Even if you are outgunned on high cards, you may still make a surprising number of tricks, since you have aces, and you may be able to engineer a cross-ruff. So raise to two spades.


♠ A J 4 2
 Q 7 3 2
♣ A 9 6 3
South West North East
Dbl. 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


A.V. Ramana RaoJune 8th, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
I think west blew the hand away by taking Diamond A. Once declarer plays spade A as south did and leads diamond, the contract cannot be made if wst ducks. Now south can try for club ruffs but ends up losing two trump tricks. However if south finesses spade after winning the heart lead in dummy, and leads a diamond and now, even if west ducks , south retains tempo for two club ruffs

BobliptonJune 8th, 2018 at 1:29 pm

Well, certainly continuing diamonds didn’t help the defense!


Bobby WolffJune 8th, 2018 at 1:57 pm

Hi AVRR & Bob,

No doubt real hands, while easier to both find and not worry about inventing a theme, are often flawed, especially today when declarer made the bold move to play the ace of spades so early, and then West, after taking the ace of diamonds, basically gave up when, as Bob confirmed, stupidly (but sometimes juniors, usually because of lack of experience) lose their bridge brains, continued diamonds.

The only good news with today’s hand is that a capable old timer can see for him or herself the learning process, with the keen talent developing,, but also the very ruff edges often transparent.

No doubt, the declarer had learned to count (by far the forever most necessary ingredient), but when, after hearing the opening leader bid diamonds and then lead from possibly side length in hearts (although not clear cut, but being at the table might disclose) should more or less expect a bad trump break, making her immediate spade ace play questionable at best.

However, youth in bridge needs to be served since without it, at least our high-level game will be doomed and without a doubt, the low level social carefree kind, will never make any waves on its own.

I fervently wish the ACBL would believe that fact and spend more time lionizing, like all other major competitions, the really good players, already there or, at least, on their way.

Thanks to both of you for writing, if, for no other reason, than to get in this commercial.