Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, June 7th, 2018

The degree of civilization which a people has reached, no doubt, is marked by their anxiety to do as they would be done by.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

S North
None ♠ K J 7 3
 K J 6 2
 A J
♣ K J 6
West East
♠ 10 8
 A 9 7
 Q 10 7 4 3
♣ 10 8 2
♠ 9 6 5 4 2
 10 8 4 3
 K 6
♣ Q 5
♠ A Q
 Q 5
 9 8 5 2
♣ A 9 7 4 3
South West North East
1 ♣ Pass 1 Pass
1 NT Pass 3 NT All pass


Today’s deal sees North with a promising hand for slam when his partner opens the bidding. However, the one-no-trump rebid persuades North to look no higher than three no-trump. He certainly has no reason to assume that game will be as delicate as it actually turns out to be.

When West leads his fourth-best diamond, the fate of the contract hinges on declarer’s play to the first trick. He should reason that West is relatively unlikely to have led low from a suit headed by all three of the king, queen and 10, so one of those honors must be held by East. If this is so, and the suit divides 4-3, the defenders will have three tricks in diamonds, but no more.

If diamonds break 5-2, the play of the ace may well block the run of the suit for the defense. South’s correct play, therefore, is to go up with the ace in dummy. This play does not lose even if West has led from both the king and queen, because the fact that the 10 would then be doubleton in East’s hand will prevent the run of four tricks. Declarer must still exercise caution; if he next finesses in clubs, the defenders can unscramble their six winners.

Instead, declarer must unblock spades and go after hearts at once, since he needs no more than two tricks in that suit to make his game.

West can win with the heart ace, but his side can take no more than two diamond tricks, even if East has unblocked his king at the first trick.

Not all bad hands oblige you to pass at every turn. Here, your shape requires you to compete to two hearts, even if your partnership doesn’t rate to have more than half the deck between you. With your extra shape, you shouldn’t worry about your honor location. Let the opponents worry about it instead.


♠ 9 6 5 4 2
 10 8 4 3
 K 6
♣ Q 5
South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
1 ♠ Pass Pass 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


Bill CubleyJune 21st, 2018 at 2:03 pm

Bobby, I missed this column on a recent trip to Gettysburg. They surprised me with an award. I always buy Cheeze Its to support the addiction of the hostess of the Saturday night party, hence the award.

Justice Holmes served into his mid 90s. He was sitting with a friend when they saw an attractive woman walk by. Justice Holmes remarked, “Oh to be 85 again.” I guess there is hope for both of us.

bobbywolffJune 21st, 2018 at 3:40 pm

Hi Bill,

Appreciate you missing the column while you were no doubt loving your Gettysburg address.

As long as your hostess wasn’t a rat, no mind to cater to her addiction. And, of course, with Justice Holmes the master of both laws and his sparkling words to make them stick, my only wish would be for him to have been granted another 50 years of life to make all understand the necessity for all countries, large or small, righteous or not so much, to protect themselves from harm and more importantly to have leadership which emphasizes total patriotism, certainly not politics, nor too much sympathy for old wives tales about civility.

As my mother used to emphasize, “just stay alive” without which we lose our power to do what can help. at least during our time on earth, being 90 or what.