Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 21st, 2018

Into a limbo large and broad, since called
The Paradise of fools, to few unknown.

John Milton

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


In today’s deal, South should know that his partner’s double followed by a three-no-trump rebid suggests something like a two no-trump opening. South’s hand would be worthless at no-trump, but he will make more tricks at hearts than North can make at no-trump. South therefore corrects three no-trump to four hearts, and North should be happy to trust his partner and pass.

When the dummy appears, South notes that he has four possible losers: a trump, a diamond and two clubs. Some way must be found to eliminate one of those losing tricks, but clubs appear to be 7-0 with the ace onside, so declarer ought to be able to lead up to the club king after drawing trumps.

Declarer begins by winning the spade king and starting to draw trumps, whereupon East takes the heart ace. Much to South’s irritation, East is able to shift to the club jack, which goes to his partner’s ace.

Don’t delude yourself that all is well: East surely has a singleton club and is hoping to ruff the second round of the suit. What can declarer do about that?

Once the problem has been diagnosed, the correct riposte may be found. South must withhold dummy’s club king on both the second and third round of the suit. He must play low from dummy each time and ruff the third club in his hand. He then finishes drawing trumps, and only now can the club king be taken in perfect safety, to allow South to dispose of his losing diamond.

Despite your singleton, you must rebid three no-trump here. To bid a second suit, you should have at least minimal slam interest; make one of your low diamonds the queen, and you would have enough for that action. Here, you should try to get partner to pick between spades and no-trump.


♠ Q 10 7 6 3
 A 6 3
 J 9 6 4
♣ J
South West North East
    2 NT Pass
3 Pass 3 ♠ 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


Matt W.October 5th, 2018 at 12:45 pm

Riposte is such a great and underused word. I love your site Mr. Wolff, it’s the first I come to every day.

bobbywolffOctober 5th, 2018 at 1:41 pm

Hi Matt W.,

Many thanks for your kind and thoughtful response.

It has no doubt made my day, perhaps month, and since it is early in the morning here, I have many hours to enjoy it.

And please, even if you are only a bridge aficionado or devotee, please do not hesitate to join in the conversation, since our group is worldwide with a common bond. No one bites and we are all bridge lovers.

If you are like I, by doing so, you’ll make a large number of fast and most importantly, very worthwhile friends.

BTW, I think riposte got its start in the fencing world, at least that is what my dictionary reads, and if so, bridge does apply, with many parry and thrusts.

In any event, warm regards!

Matt WilliamsOctober 5th, 2018 at 2:41 pm

Thank you Mr. Wolff! One quick historical note. 40 years ago I was 15, and playing EW with my mom at the Dallas National in a pairs consolation event. I was a very new player, and after the round was called, I moved, and sat down, looked to my right and saw you! I was blown away. You were playing with a guy named Gordon(?) who wore a distinctly odd tan one-piece “jumper”. It was then and there I realized that bridge is the only sport where you can sit down and play against “LeBron”.

Michael BeyroutiOctober 5th, 2018 at 3:56 pm

Well said, Matt. And it’s clear it comes from the heart.
Make that Le Wolff.

Iain ClimieOctober 5th, 2018 at 4:18 pm

Hi Matt,

I wholeheartedly agree and there is another reason why bridge is so great. Although high quality opponents will try everything to make life difficult, sometimes it is just a question of getting your decisions right or even deciding to take a slight flyer which comes off. In my experience, you can always tell the really best players form the not quite so good; the top ones (both sexes) will keep their calm and manners (at least outwardly) if you fix them. They may not be feeling quite the same inside, of course; if you’ve just pulled off an outrageously lucky contract where everything lies well, you may get smilingly asked if they can use your preferred lottery numbers or if you follow horse racing.


bobbywolffOctober 5th, 2018 at 5:27 pm

Hi Matt Michael and Iain,

All I hope true, but realistically, wolves are known to bite (ever seen those teeth at the ready?), at least so the rumors go, which helps with the intimidation at the table, without which ………..?

And Iain, your referral to both sexes keeping their calm and manners, be careful about fixing (whether that is at the bridge table or just general meaning) the female of the species is much more feisty and thus ultra dangerous to all those opponents (or mates) who succeed.

Patrick CheuOctober 6th, 2018 at 5:30 am

Hi Bobby,At the end of the bridge hand,my left hand opponent said thanks to his partner for the club signal..which triggered of a reaction from me to the effect that RHO took a while to play to the first trick..RHO retorted that he was allowed to think on trick one..The contract was 5H by South after LHO bids to 5D and led AD and RHO ‘eventually’ plays the 3D from his hand. North KQT872 AT97 J 52- RHO J965 5 9763 A974-South A QJ6432 8 KQJ83-West 43 K8 AKQT542 T6.On trick 2 West switches to a club..which wasn’t’s obvious that the opps were playing Mckenney signal on trick one..RHO(has directed at another club).I know that RHO was allowed to think on T1 but was there something else missing here?Please could you shed some light on this..regards~Patrick.