Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 5th, 2018

The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.

Ken Kesey

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



Wandering into the bidding over a strong one-no-trump opener and not buying the contract can prove to be an expensive exuberance. Today, West’s reasonable decision to show the majors painted a picture for declarer.

Against three no-trump, West led the spade four, and South saw he could count on eight tricks — four in spades, one in hearts, two in diamonds and one in clubs.

Declarer noticed that the likeliest source of the ninth trick lay in hearts, but he also knew that, in view of the bidding, West was almost certain to have the king. Thus, simply leading a low heart to the queen was unlikely to pay dividends.

So at trick two, when dummy’s spade queen held, he played a low heart, hoping that East might hold at least one of the four top cards in the suit. When East followed with the six, South inserted the seven and West won with the nine. (Had East played the 10, South would have covered with the queen.)

Now West guessed well to get off lead with a diamond. Taking East’s nine with the ace, South continued with the heart queen. West played the king, which was allowed to hold, the 10 dropping from East.

West exited passively in spades, and South won and drove out the spade king. When West took his king and returned a spade, South took his spade winners and successfully finessed the heart eight. He cashed the heart ace and led a club to the queen and ace to bring home nine tricks.

Although your heart honors are well placed, you can see that you have no real fit for partner’s suits, so no source of tricks. It looks logical here to bid two no-trump, the value of your hand, rather than jump to the no-trump game. If partner passes, I’d expect you to struggle to come to eight tricks.


♠ K 8 5 4 3
 K J 9 3
♣ A 9 3
South West North East
    1 1
1 ♠ Pass 2 ♣ 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 ClimieJuly 19th, 2018 at 11:21 am

Hi Bobby,

It was a little expensive, but perhaps not as much as could have happened if North had sharpened his Axe and started doubling. Unless East bid 2D to play and West had the discipline to pass it, the pain in 2H X by East is pretty horrific. Suppose South starts with CQ, West wins and leads a diamond but N/S now get a club ruff before exiting with a small heart to the Ace and heart back to the Q and King. 1 spade is inevitable eventually plus 3H and the CA but ouch!



bobbywolffJuly 19th, 2018 at 1:45 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, although if, after North doubles 2 clubs to start the defensive tone for NS, East volunteers 2 diamonds, West should respect that decision by allowing his decision to prevail. Likely down 1 but there are many variables, being doubled, opening lead, plus many variations of the play.

However, you are on target with what may happen and by doing so you alert future partnerships to not overlook opportunities for profitable defense rather than to risk shaky NV games.

By way of interest, During the first round of bidding, South’s AJ1092 of spades in front of announced long spades becomes an albatross both on offense and defense, signifying concern for South, unless a miracle happens and EW wind up with spades as trump.

Iain ClimieJuly 19th, 2018 at 2:19 pm

Hi again,

The nature of the albatross is game dependent, though. Greta news at golf, less so (as here) when it is back to the Rime of the Ancient Mariner – I think it goes something like “God save thee Ancient Mariner from the fiends that plague thee thus; why lookst though so?” “With my cross-bow, I shot the Albatross” replies the AM. By doping so he sets in train events which will leave all his shipmates dead and him accursed, condemned to wander for the rest of his life telling the grim tale of his fate.

Puts last Tuesday’s moderate session in strict perspective.



bobbywolffJuly 19th, 2018 at 3:33 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, sadness sometimes persists, especially with, what I remember about the Ancient Mariner, when shrinking oars and, in time of need, no drinking water available, causing it.

Both playing bridge and real life itself are often other examples but with most adventures in life relative, with no unhappiness ever present, how can one enjoy good fortune?

However, and also in perspective, deep thought can be confusing, making “Table Up” a usual very worthwhile and promising experience.

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