Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

It was very prettily said that we may learn the little value of fortune by the persons on whom heaven is pleased to bestow it.

Sir Richard Steele

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

*Michaels, five hearts and five
  cards in a minor


This board occurred in a knockout match where North-South were behind and in need of a swing. Accordingly, after North cue-bid to show a high-card spade raise and South disclosed some extras with his jump to four spades, then admitted to a first-round heart control by bidding five hearts, North went for the grand slam.

Against seven spades, West went passive with the lead of the trump six; declarer took this with the jack and drew the remaining trump by leading to dummy’s ace. At this point, he could be confident neither minor suit was going to behave, but next he cashed the diamond ace followed by the club ace and king, throwing the queen and nine of hearts from hand. A club ruff confirmed that West had started with 1=5=5=2 shape.

So declarer next led the diamond queen from hand, hoping that East’s two-card diamond suit was anything but the doubleton king. To his relief, West covered the queen with the king, which cheered up South considerably.

Declarer ruffed the diamond in dummy, ruffed a club back to hand and led a confident diamond nine. West covered with the 10, and this was again ruffed in dummy.

After a second club ruff to get back to hand, declarer led the diamond eight. A disconsolate West covered this with the jack and, after the third ruff in dummy, declarer claimed his contract. He had eight trump tricks, four tricks in aces and kings, and the diamond seven for trick 13.

It seems logical to raise to four hearts now. Anytime your partner has six hearts (or five good hearts), your hand will offer the opportunity to ruff some diamonds. If you bid three no-trump, you will probably find that to succeed you will need to set up the clubs, one way or another.


♠ A Q 8 7 5
 6 4
♣ A K 10 8 3
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 1 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


David WarheitOctober 6th, 2018 at 9:18 am

Just as in Thursday’s hand, reverse the 6 & 7 of D and the result is the opposite of what transpired, only this time it is defeat instead of success. The parrot is, as usual, right as rain.

Ken MooreOctober 6th, 2018 at 1:24 pm


Yesterday is was riposte and today it is disconsolate. Why wife is a professional editor and the only other person that I know who talks this way. Well, at least, I leaned from her not to be pedantic when I contribute here.

Iain ClimieOctober 6th, 2018 at 1:54 pm

Hi Ken,

I’m waiting for obfuscatory defence, bidding or even explanations to get a mention one day. Failing that I’ll take something in the daily quote e.g. eschewing obfuscation is important in life, so just be clear! My wife works in a library and we could probably start one of our own.


bobbywolffOctober 6th, 2018 at 2:14 pm

Hi David,

1. There used to be a somewhat sophisticated expression in bridge about holding poor cards as “too many sixes and sevens”, perhaps it should have read “too many sixes OR sometimes sevens.

2. To match Sir Richard Steele’s quote about fortune, since NS combined had six diamonds and only five clubs, their side was indeed fortunate that West’s minor was diamonds, not clubs. that is, unless East’s hand included both the QJ with his other one.

Yes, the above is somewhat esoteric, but in bridge and in assessment very true. However for the aspiring up and coming player, those thoughts come along somewhat naturally, indicating numeracy is alive and well within him.

Pretty clever those parrots and what they will provide for a cracker or two.

Bill CubleyOctober 6th, 2018 at 2:31 pm

I am surprised the other better comments above missed the beer card taking trick 13. Must not have been a Junior declarer. 😉

bobbywolffOctober 6th, 2018 at 2:33 pm

Hi Ken,

My word, or perhaps I should pay deference to your pedantic wife and justly appreciate her always use of the most descriptive expression.

The first 100 years of my life meant little to me for that talent, to which I had almost none, but the last period, when the body decays ahead of the mind, sometimes even goes far enough to cheer up the day.

And you, the lucky husband, should appreciate that underrated pleasure. Think Shakespeare!

bobbywolffOctober 6th, 2018 at 2:47 pm

Hi Iain,

Again, you too, have a super educated spouse, who you, and, if necessary, for only that, should be thankful. Reason, if and when you make as many mistakes as I, to be able to virtually fly for the correction, is indeed an underrated asset, worth most of the gold in China.

However, though the sometime cost is chagrin, but that alone will tend to put paid to your discomfort, a price well worth it and more so, will deservedly swell your lovely wife’s ego.

bobbywolffOctober 6th, 2018 at 2:56 pm

Hi Bill,

Believe it or not, and although I have often heard people (mostly men) speak of the “beer” card, but never knew which ducat that was.

Is it truly the diamond seven, which rarely takes a trick on its own, if not trump and does it only apply to bridge since I thought it was connected to bowling, that is, American style? What am I (truly confused) missing?

Bob LiptonOctober 6th, 2018 at 4:41 pm

For some reason, the Diamond suit gets nicknames. The Ten is Big Casino. The Nine is the Curse of Scotland. The Eight is Little Casino. Why the Seven is the Beer Card, no one knows.

bobbywolffOctober 6th, 2018 at 6:32 pm

Hi Bob,

Perhaps a fellow named Darvas, the Hungarian author of “Right Through the Pack” would be most likely to tell us.

However, I doubt if that deed is doable.

Ken MooreOctober 6th, 2018 at 6:45 pm


If we could get back to the game, I have always been very much conflicted by bids like todays “Michaels, five hearts and five cards in a minor” and like the Sept. 28th and 29th that are super specific. It seems to me to limit “real” bids with “real” information.

Comments on that?

bobbywolffOctober 6th, 2018 at 7:47 pm

Hi Ken,

As you get deeper into the game you will begin
to realize just how valuable big trump fits (10 between the partners, although the more the better) and how many tricks they can produce with only a paucity of the high cards when, in addition the two compatible hands have different short suits,

Presto, magico, bids like Michaels over a major suit opening by the opponents will show length in a random minor and in addition, of course, to the other major. IOW those weak sounding bids are well worth providing them to be shown in order to capitalize on the partnership discovering the trump fit.

Without those types of defensive bids, much of the excitement and competitive bidding is wasted, making the weaker partnership hands subject to be overrun by their well endowed much stronger (in high cards) opponents.

Of course, no trump, a popular final contract is not noticeably affected, at least by the stronger hands as long as they have all suits stopped and able to take 9 tricks for game before the opponents can establish and cash at least 5.

IOW, bridge, as a game, has far more variables than most suspect, making it, at least IMO far and away the best mind game ever invented.

Many Chess enthusiasts will argue with my conclusion, but the overall mindset including psychology of different mind tactics for different opponents, IOW bidding the same hand differently depending on who are the opponents (especially in competitive auctions) is the norm rather than the exception.

As you gain experience I would love for you to then judge if you agree with me or not at least with the general statements.