Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 18th, 2018

I borrow to pay my honest debts and not to squander foolishly. What’s more, I confine my borrowing to those who can well afford it. I don’t go around sponging on widows and orphans unless they have plenty.

Will Cuppy

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


Today’s deal is a theme that dates back to an early Culbertson match — though it was not untypical that a deal played by one of Culbertson’s opponents was attributed in print to Ely himself!

East may be best advised to pass on the first round, though as a passed hand, it would also be reasonable to double for take-out. However, when the call of two clubs comes around to him, he should reopen the bidding with a take-out double. It would be practical for South to re-compete to three clubs, in the hope of preventing his opponents from getting together. West should not take any part in the auction now, since his partner did not double on the first round and must therefore be limited in shape or high cards, or both.

A red-suit lead would defeat the contract, but when West leads a low spade, it gives declarer some extra chances. He follows with the seven from dummy, and when East contributes the king, South can see that he surely has to lose one spade, one heart, two diamonds and at least one club. His only chance of avoiding one of these losers is to pick up a second trick in spades by throwing his queen under the king and subsequently taking a finesse against the jack. When the finesse succeeds, a diamond can be discarded on the spade ace, and the lie of the trumps is such that with the lead coming from dummy, whether declarer finesses the queen or the 10, only one club trick should be lost.

To have a shot to beat this, when we know that partner has short spades but hasn’t balanced, we probably need the opponents to be in a 4-3 fit. To kill dummy’s ruffing values (since we have clubs under control), I would lead a trump. An incidental upside of this defense is that declarer will occasionally guess wrongly who has the trump length (or the queen).


♠ Q 7 6 4
 J 7 3
 Q 5
♣ Q J 9 5
South West North East
  1 ♣ Pass 1 ♠
Pass 2 ♠ 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


Bill CubleyJuly 2nd, 2018 at 1:56 pm


The quote author’s name hits close to home today. I do not squander my money, but I do spend on women partners, drinks, and card fees as necessities of life.

Happy Independence Day!

bobbywolffJuly 2nd, 2018 at 2:53 pm

Hi Bill,

Yes, the author of the quote today, wreaks of both honesty and practical success, especially designed for dealing with one’s chosen necessities of life and, of course, the opposite sex (although my statement nowadays, might be regarded as biased, therefore, and, if so, inappropriate).

And thanks for your well-wishes and reminds me of one of Irving Berlin’s favorite patriotic popular songs which might now go: “I’m a Yankee (they play baseball today) doodle dandy, Yankee doodle do or die. A real life nephew of my Uncle Sam, born on the 2nd of July.”

Somehow these convenient holiday date changes, takes a little away from the nostalgia but everyone might agree, like or unlike the practice, it is decidedly practical.

Happy, back atcha 2 days before Independence Day! It is a day also and is as good as any to be on holiday.

Ken MooreJuly 6th, 2018 at 3:31 am


I was always taught to preempt all at once rather than a little at a time as here. That is like cutting off a dog’s tail a little at a time so it will not hurt as much – it usually turns out badly. In this case, south got off lucky even though opening leader had hint but missed it.

Counting likely losers, an opening 3C bid seems best. Any thoughts?