Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 7th, 2018

That wild-goose chase of yours is going to lay an egg.— Lou Costello in “The Wistful

Wagon Gap”

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


Today’s deal came up at the second IOC Grand Prix, held in the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. The event was set up to try to help make the case for bridge as an Olympic sport.

There appear to be two inescapable losers outside the trump suit in South’s four-heart contract, suggesting that his chances of success are slim indeed. But though the contract went down each time it was played, perhaps declarer could have found a way home.

West would typically lead his partner’s suit against four hearts. When dummy plays low, East wins the spade 10 and shifts to a club. When South wins and plays a heart to the ace, dropping the king, there is no obvious reason to treat this as a false card; so the prospect of two trump losers is clearly threatening.

For South to have a chance of success, West needs to hold at least three clubs, but declarer might as well go after diamonds at once. The defenders are likely to duck the ace, win the second diamond and play a second club. Declarer wins in dummy, discards a club on the diamond queen, ruffs a spade in hand, crosses to a third club and ruffs dummy’s last spade in hand.

10 tricks have been played; one in hearts and three in each of the other suits. When South leads his last club, West is helpless. If he ruffs high, he will be endplayed to lead a trump into declarer’s tenace. If he ruffs low, dummy over-ruffs with the five and loses just one further trump trick.

This hand is not really worth a drive to game. The choice is whether to cue-bid two clubs en route to two no-trump, or just to jump directly to two no-trump. I prefer the latter route, since the first sequence might suggest a four-card major. I only want to play a major if my partner can introduce it voluntarily, suggesting a five-card suit.


♠ K 3 2
 A 5 2
 Q J 4 2
♣ Q 10 8
South West North East
  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


Judy Kay-WolffJuly 21st, 2018 at 4:29 pm

I rarely comment.. but I found this the most difficult hand I have seen in Bobby’s column in a long time. When I mentioned it to him .. without a moment’s hesitation, he retorted: “After seeing the drop of the Heart King, it would take Brazilian Gabriel Chagas less than a minute to play the hand!” He added, “it is a per se definition of numeracy.”

A V Ramana RaoJuly 21st, 2018 at 5:34 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
The hand is somewhat similar to the ” Tale of four of diamonds” from Right through the pack by Darvas . Very instructive and interesting

Patrick CheuJuly 21st, 2018 at 5:39 pm

Hi Judy and Bobby,Even if one doesn’t know how to go about the hand,perhaps it’s worth mentioning that the hand with four trumps often seems to be 4333 shape and on that basis one eliminates the side suits(in West’s hand) to cater for that,but the difficulty of this hand lies in seeing the discard of a club on dummy’s QD before the end position of playing the last club from declarer’s hand.Declarer has to manage his exit cards too..clubs being the problem not just bad trump break. Regards~Patrick.

A V Ramana RaoJuly 21st, 2018 at 5:40 pm

When I mentioned ” the hand ” , I meant play

bobbywolffJuly 21st, 2018 at 6:10 pm


Yes, card combinations in either NT or often within the trump suit as here, subject themselves, usually with careful play by the declarer, but sometimes even by a defender, to emphasize the disadvantage of one side having to play 1st and 3rd to the suit rather than 2nd and fourth.

That advantage in the play is always present and balances out the theoretical advantage, usually in NT, but again often with suit play, the going after tricks by leading that particular suit.

In any coordinated bridge school, the above paragraph would be mentioned early, then after the student settles down into the essence of the game he begins (or should) appreciate when to pass passive or aggressive, depending on the all important tempo necessary for success.

Merely no more than jumbled words to a beginner, but kind of the bible to the experience. And for a whimsical thought, that 5 of hearts (instead of the 4) would be in the defensive hand for Jim2, but whether it is or it isn’t, doesn’t detract from the excellent player who is able to play it correctly when it arises.

No doubt the learning to play good bridge is surely a tribute to one’s logical thinking, and that alone (or almost) should allow it to enter the curriculum of early schooling.

bobbywolffJuly 21st, 2018 at 6:13 pm

3rd para., 4th line, pass should be choose.


bobbywolffJuly 21st, 2018 at 6:21 pm

Hi Patrick,

No doubt declarer was holding his breath hoping for the right defensive distribution once the king of hearts came tumbling down.

When hands like these do appear, and no doubt, they do, whether it is a local club game or a World Championship there is a great feeling from executing it right.

That alone should convince non-believers (more so, those who have some talent) to take up our beautiful game and have a lifetime to enjoy it.

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