Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

The lesson here is that it is insufficient to protect ourselves with laws; we need to protect ourselves with mathematics.

Bruce Schneier

S North
None ♠ 9 7 4
 K Q 9 8 4 3
 A 10 4
♣ 3
West East
♠ J 10 6 5
 8 7 3 2
♣ A K 5 2
♠ K 8 3
 J 7 6 2
 Q 9
♣ J 10 7 6
♠ A Q 2
 A 5
 K J 6 5
♣ Q 9 8 4
South West North East
1 NT Pass 4 * Pass
4 All pass    

*Texas transfer


Against four hearts, West led the club king, and on seeing dummy’s singleton, switched to the spade jack. South won with the queen and could now see 10 tricks, as long as trumps broke 3-2. The heart ace was followed by another heart to the king. South now decided he had to guess the diamonds correctly in order to make his game. As the cards lay, his line was going to generate either nine tricks or 11.

Based on his knowledge of the heart layout, Declarer continued with the diamond king, then led low to the 10. Upon winning with the queen, East returned a spade, which was won by the ace. A club was ruffed in dummy, and the trump queen was cashed, but when declarer followed up with a diamond, East ruffed in and played a spade for the setting trick.

There are two better lines here. One is to draw trumps with the king and ace. Now you can lead a diamond to the 10 with the communications in diamonds still in place. But a far better line is to draw three rounds of trumps, then take the diamond ace. Next lead a low diamond from dummy. If East can trump in, he would just be ruffing a loser. If East follows (or discards), take the king and play a third diamond. Either defender may be able to win and return a spade. However, you simply take your ace and play the established diamond jack, discarding dummy’s losing spade. East may ruff, but that will be the last trick for the defense.

It is tempting to move to two no-trump, hoping to find a better spot, with an outside chance of making game. I’d prefer to pass, even when vulnerable at teams. Unless partner has a seventh heart, or six solid hearts, game seems somewhat unlikely to make. Ensuring the plus score is an underrated art.


♠ J 10 6 5
 Q 8 7 2
♣ A K 5 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 Pass
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


bobbywolffAugust 28th, 2018 at 2:28 pm

Hi Everyone,

At least to me, this hand exemplifies exactly what today’s poignant quote represents.

Bruce Schneier’s timely reminder (quote) is so true in bridge, calling attention to the chilling reference of how important numbers become in playing good bridge.

Although to some, the correct way to play this hand bellows out, but to others (probably a majority of humans), whose numeracy does not come second nature, it is simply a very difficult task and thus the thought process necessary has to be practiced.

To me, it is just another reason why bridge should be taught (and thus emphasized) in schools since, although only guessed by me, it seems by working on numeric thoughts while young, that knowledge will carry over to later life, making many lives (perhaps a substantial percentage of willing students) much more proficient in the overall dealing with numbers, leading to a more productive, thus happier and indeed safer time on earth.

Likely just dreaming on my part, but only hoping that educators in the USA may, after carefully and thoroughly examining the above will arrive and more importantly, act upon, what should be directly in front of their faces.

“Just sayin” but, in truth praying that the ACBL, including the current BODs, opens that mind of theirs and does what is necessary to get it done, or at the very least, gives it an all-in try, before it very soon. will be just too late.

Fred BrewerAugust 28th, 2018 at 8:16 pm

On your Tues. Aug 28 column, if East never plays the ace, queen of hearts, he’s a lock to set South by one trick. I was wondering how South didn’t lose 4 tricks, one diamond, i space and two hearts, and then you said on the second heart lead from North, he played the ace. On my playing of the hand, he never does.

jim2August 28th, 2018 at 9:22 pm

Fred Brewer –

If that is the printed Aug 28 column, it will not be here on-line for 14 days.

Can you come back then?

Iain ClimieAugust 28th, 2018 at 10:50 pm

HI Fred,

Delighted to see another contributor and the date is pencilled in the diary. Where did you see the column two weeks ahead of the blog, though? As a UK resident, I don’t get the chance to see Bobby’s contributions when they first appear.



bobbywolffAugust 29th, 2018 at 12:33 am

Hi Fred, Jim2, & Iain,

Yes, and me too.

Especially me, since I can’t wait to hear what I have to say.

Is there something rotten in the state of Denmark? Who else besides relatives are there when someone has a will?

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