Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

Fairy tales are more than true — not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.

Neil Gaiman

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


In today’s deal, the Three Little Pigs were all declarers in three no-trump on broadly similar auctions, but with very different results.

At each table, East and West bid and raised spades, but North put his partner into three no-trump. Both the spade two and nine make sense on opening lead here — I prefer the nine. In order to succeed, South must carefully decide on a way forward.

The first little pig cashed his three spade winners, pitching a heart and club from dummy. When he played on diamonds, East could win and cash out the spades, then the hearts for down four.

The second little pig was more cautious. He won the first spade and played on diamonds at once from the top, expecting the defenders to continue spades. But West discarded a spade and a club on the second and third diamonds. East shifted to the heart king, and that let West take the top hearts and exit in clubs, for down one.

The third little pig found the golden mean between cashing spades and abandoning them. He cashed precisely one more spade, discarding a club, then led a diamond to the jack. If that held the trick, the diamonds would run; if it lost, the diamond eight would serve as a re-entry to the South hand to allow him to cash the last spade winner.

Have you notice what might happen if South finesses in diamonds at trick two? At double-dummy, East can duck the first diamond. Now declarer has no reentry to his hand and only eight tricks.

Despite your sixth spade, you essentially have a run-of-the-mill overcall with no extra values or shape. The question is whether to rebid two spades or pass the auction to your partner to describe his hand. It feels right to pass to me; but give me the spade jack instead of a small spade, and I’d rebid two spades. If the redouble shows two spades, bidding two spades now seems reasonable.


♠ Q 10 7 5 4 3
 K 3
 Q 4 3
♣ K 10
South West North East
      1 ♣
1 ♠ Dbl. Rdbl. 2 ♣

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 24th, 2018 at 2:49 pm

Hi Bobby,

The last possibility you mentioned is reminiscent of par contests which were once popular amongst experts. “Deep Finesse” wouldn’t have been overly bothered either way but the possibility impressed me. I noticed that the 3rd pig wasn’t “ham-fisted” (groan) enough to waste the D8 although you state that if the D to the J wins, diamonds will run. What if they’re 4-0 onside? Presumably declarer now plays the DJ but can’t west now exit with a club?



bobbywolffJuly 24th, 2018 at 4:26 pm

Hi Iain,

Your always perceptive posts require alert replies, but instead I will slyly suggest the 3rd pig brought home the bacon, assuming your TOCM TM type devastation did not occur (after all, likely Jim2, was no where near the poke).

And a recommendation, “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time, and it annoys the pig”.

Yes, long ago and far away in America, bridge par contests occurred in our Intercollegiate championships. In those days bridge was very popular with American youths as illustrated in my 1955 College Yearbook, and looking down from high above, the photograph pictured 12 bridge games going on in the Student Union.

How times have changed with the college student (at least from this side of the pond), who now could be substituted in the next to last paragraph for the mentioned swine.

jim2July 24th, 2018 at 7:33 pm

Obviously, if I were defending the hand, he diamonds WOULD have been 4-0 onside and the first piggy would have been declarer and advanced the 8D.

bobbywolffJuly 24th, 2018 at 11:58 pm

Hi Jim2,

All of your friends on site are now beginning to understand the gravity of what TOCM TM represents. However we need to change the initials to TOCMAOPP to stand for both card migration and opponents poor play adversely effecting the result.

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