Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men and German to my horse.

Charles V

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


The European Open Championships at Montecatini Terme, Italy, in June last year featured a week of mixed pairs and teams events. Because it is an open tournament, players come from all around the world, and squads or partnerships can consist of mixed nationalities.

David Berkowitz of the U.S. was playing with his wife Lisa, with teammates Jan and Aida Jansma from the Netherlands, and David was full of praise for his teammates’ effort on defense here.

Both rooms played four hearts, and both defenders in the West seat led their singleton club, but Lisa Berkowitz brought home 10 tricks easily enough in the closed room. Here is what happened at our featured table, though.

Declarer won the club lead in hand and ruffed a diamond, East giving count in the process. Declarer next led the heart queen, and Aida ducked this to Jan, who put the spade king on the table! Declarer was forced to try to cash two spades immediately to pitch his club loser. Next, he led a third spade from dummy, and East took the opportunity to ruff high as declarer discarded a club. But that let East give her partner the club ruff to set the hand.

Note that if East covers the first trump, this defense will not work. Similarly, if West shifts to a diamond or a low spade when in with the heart ace, declarer can win in hand and lead a second trump, preventing the defenders from taking their trumps separately.

I don’t think there is any reason to do anything unusual. If the opponents had not bid, you would have introduced clubs rather than rebid hearts, and there should be even less reason now to do anything else. Bidding clubs shows nine of your 13 cards, whereas repeating hearts would show six of them.


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


Iain ClimieJune 26th, 2018 at 12:02 pm

HI Bobby,

I suppose East can work out that South doesn’t have the HA to be playing like this so covering is wrong (especially if South had a heart more and a club less) but it was still a brilliant effort finding it at the table (and probably in rythmn).



bobbywolffJune 26th, 2018 at 4:44 pm

Hi Iain,

As happens so often with you, jumping IMO and immediately, to perhaps what I consider the most significant attribute, but not even subtly mentioned, in what I hope to be a learning experience, directly connected to, at least in this morning’s analysis, of today’s most crucial play.

Aida was definitely not snoozing on the job and did not cover the queen of hearts simply because she already knew that since declarer had shown up with the ace of diamonds and, the AKQ of clubs by inference with partner’s lead of the telltale 8, therefore if also holding the ace of hearts would 1. bid more strongly with a possible slam in mind, and 2. (every bit an even stronger clue, her partner needed to have it for his opening bid.

Yes, in order to practically figure that out, some extra time needs to be taken at trick one, although following suit at trick one was not the problem, but covering the heart was, therefore East, although I was not present to verify, likely used her ethical right to plan out the defense for the whole hand.

The experience of dealing (excuse the pun) with this type of situation cannot be done by talking about it, only by experiencing the hand changing result it sometimes brings, without which Jan might have just covered the queen per force of habit to her whole team’s regret.

Sometime later I’ll tell you another story concerning this subject to which caused much consternation between a partnership, simply because of not allowing a defensive player to get his bearings before making what would have turned out to be a necessary winning decision instead of allowing a possibly doomed contract to succeed.

The reason for my delay may allow me to find the exact hand to which it occurred, but even if I do not succeed in finding it, I want to emphasize just how important that time factor sometimes becomes, and surprisingly is not discussed much and if so, only in casual ways.

“Little by little we can do great things” is well applied to learning progress and in bridge, it is vastly underrated.

Thanks Iain, for your proclivity of so often striking the heart (again, excuse me) of the matter.

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