Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 11th, 2018

Everyone has got to realize you can’t hold on to the past if you want any future. Each second should lead to the next one.

Joe Strummer

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


The European Open Championships allow anyone to enter, and cross-national partnerships and teams are permitted.

Last year the championship was held in Montecatini Terme, Italy, and all this week’s deals come from that event. Today’s deal features a clash between Norwegian and Austrian squads. This was a nice auction to a sensible spot.

In the other room, Terje Aa passed the West hand after a strong club to his right, then bid up to four spades on his own. Since South had shown both his suits, North was persuaded to bid on to five hearts over four spades. Unluckily for his partnership, while declarer does not appear to need the club finesse in that contract, repeated spade leads promoted the heart nine into the setting trick, so five hearts went quietly one down.

At our featured table, South appeared to have found himself in a contract where there was no home for the club loser, but things did not work out that way. Declarer in five diamonds doubled, Petter Tondel, won the spade ace and ruffed a spade, overtook a trump to dummy to ruff a spade, then drew the last trump and took a heart finesse of the jack.

If Andreas Babsch, West, cashed the queen and ace, he would then have to open up clubs, so he won his heart ace and returned the queen, hoping his partner had the jack. (Of course, declarer would have then ducked the second heart.) Whatever he did, declarer had 11 tricks and 12 IMPs.

There are two plausible lines of defense here. Without the double, you probably would have led a spade (though a case can be made for a diamond, I suppose), so you shouldn’t lead a spade now. Do you play for the club ruff, or do you try to let partner cash the diamond ace-king? I think the club play is right, but I could be persuaded otherwise.


♠ 10 4 2
 9 4 3
 9 3 2
♣ J 9 6 3
South West North East
  1 ♣ 1 ♠ 2
Pass 2 ♠ Pass 4
Pass 6 Dbl. 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


jim2June 25th, 2018 at 11:14 am

Tiny typo – Since Peter Tondel had played the JH, Terje Aa must have been hoping East had the 10H (not the JH as stated in the text).

Michael BeyroutiJune 25th, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Jim2, another tiny typo: At this table, West was Andreas Babsch not Terje Aa.

Michael BeyroutiJune 25th, 2018 at 12:15 pm

By the way, that play of the heart ace first with the queen exit next is expert play at the highest level. Common mortals would win the queen, cash the ace then exit a club hoping partner has the queen.

bobbywolffJune 25th, 2018 at 12:21 pm

Hi Jim2,

Thank you for your eagle eye. I proofed these hands (many months ago) and they have now already been released and published, so I am left with nothing but regret for what I missed.

As a matter of fact, I, of course, read it again (before your post) this morning, and what do you know, I still didn’t notice it.

However I am now deciding to say that I did it on purpose to see how many readers are sharp enough to care. Please do not give my secret away since, at least you have a great excuse for not doing better-TOCM TM, but I do not have that tune to do my dance.

bobbywolffJune 25th, 2018 at 12:51 pm

Hi Michael,

All my mistakes are done intentionally since when they are corrected, I get a substantial commission on how many comments I generate.

At this rate I’ll be a rich man in no time at all.

However you, Jim2 and others from time to time have impressed me with your obvious exactness, a talent which no doubt, lends itself to playing superior bridge.

Also, if those common mortals to which you speak could find the queen of clubs in partner’s hand, after winning the ace of hearts and leading back the queen, we would probably elect to not feature that hand, only because of deference to embarrassing him (or her).

For some reason, in bridge reporting, there seems to be an unwritten rule about going easy on losing plays, sometimes an euphemism for stupid.

jim2June 25th, 2018 at 1:42 pm

Theory of Player Migration – it had to be.

bobbywolffJune 25th, 2018 at 4:06 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, it could be TOPM, but others have suggested KISS-keep it simple, stupid, however I couldn’t tell whether that was a suggestion to others or a command to me.

A V Ramana RaoJune 25th, 2018 at 4:41 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff , Jim 2
In lighter vein ,if TOHM ( Theory of hand migration) applied to WE ( please note WE instead of EW) hands South should not have any problem in five hearts ( or for once if it is allowed to play anticlockwise )
And a smaall observation : while South declarer at the first table must have regretted not to play five diamonds instead of five hearts , in case West is allowed to play four spades, defense has to be precise in order to take one down else West walks away with his contract.

A V Ramana RaoJune 25th, 2018 at 4:45 pm

In fact, South makes six hearts on TOHM

bobbywolffJune 25th, 2018 at 5:56 pm


It could be an interesting challenge to guess just how valuable TOHM would be to someone declaring being able to choose EW-WE or NS-SN.

On the other hand, it might not be.

Bob BordenJune 25th, 2018 at 6:52 pm


I feel like I’m missing something here. Either East has the heart 10 or he doesn’t. If he does, declarer is almost assuredly going down and if he doesn’t
but has the club Queen instead west has given declarer his contract.

bobbywolffJune 25th, 2018 at 7:25 pm

Hi Bob,

While assuming you are talking about the defense to 5 hearts instead of 5 diamonds, no doubt the bidding will have suggested to the whole table that declarer, South, had started with only 4 hearts. Therefore when declarer finessed the first heart and lost the jack to the queen, then West continued spades forcing South to trump.

Next declarer continued with a heart which West won with the ace. At that point, another high spade would guarantee a set since South would have to trump denuding declarer of any more trump therefore 100% guaranteeing a set since East’s last trump had to be higher than dummy.

The above is simple fact, simply told, but the primary reason there are so few very good players who count every hand, therefore not even having to know what denomination it is, in this case and much more often than most realize, how counting every hand is a demanding restriction, without which, the ones who don’t, insure a too low ceiling on just how proficient he can rise, while loving our game, but not giving the key effort to get there from then.

Furthermore, like riding a bicycle, once learned, always practiced and not nearly as difficult, once one’s concentration realizes it is 100% necessary for any appreciable success.

Michael BeyroutiJune 25th, 2018 at 9:07 pm

Eh, Jim2, I didn’t know you were sitting South.

Michael BeyroutiJune 25th, 2018 at 9:10 pm

I think AVRR just found the antidote to TOCM: just play the hand counterclockwise!

Michael BeyroutiJune 25th, 2018 at 9:18 pm

Bob Borden: If you were referring to five diamonds, you are right: West with his “expert” play in hearts may have squandered a defensive trick in case that club queen is with East.

Bob BordenJune 25th, 2018 at 10:33 pm

I was referring to defending 5 diamonds, sorry I didn’t make that clear


bobbywolffJune 26th, 2018 at 9:00 am

Hi Bob,

Sorry for my gaffe of thinking you meant defending 5 hearts.

Above, Michael has said it all and thus agree with him 100%.