Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 4th, 2018

I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.

Queen Elizabeth I

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


The U.S. scored decisive victories in both the pairs and teams events at the Hua Yuan women’s tournament last October in Beijing. Today’s deal shows a spectacular play by a member of the American team — with a rather unexpected outcome. The deal came up in the round robin, when USA faced France.

At our featured table, Pam Granovetter (North) could not open a weak two diamonds, but sensibly chose to pass, influenced by her excellent support for either major suit. Benedicte Cronier could open one heart, but nonetheless Sylvia Shi ended up declaring three no-trump.

As West, Catherine Mus found the best opening salvo when she led the spade two, which went to the six, eight and three. Cronier returned the spade jack. Shi won and took stock. Her left-hand opponenet was known to have led from a suit that was only four cards long, and was also known to have at most one heart. It made sense, therefore, that Mus’ distribution was exactly 4=1=4=4. So, Shi cashed the diamond ace and finessed the diamond 10. Well done, for a sparkling plus 400. How many IMPs do you suppose she gained for her play?

In the other room, the French North opened three diamonds; can you blame Irina Levitina for overcalling three hearts? I cannot. Anne-Laure Huberschwiller found an incisive penalty double and led the ace and another diamond. When declarer missguessed the location of the spade 10, she could do no better than take four trump tricks and a club for down 800 and a 9-IMP swing to France.

Your partner’s call suggests extras in high cards or playing strength, and you certainly have something in hand for your first call. It seems logical to advance with a bid of three spades. You might be able to make game in diamonds, spades or no-trump; let partner know where you live.


♠ K 10 6
 9 8 5
 K Q 10 6 5 4
♣ 7
South West North East
  1 ♣ Dbl. Pass
2 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


Iain ClimieOctober 18th, 2018 at 11:11 am

Hi Bobby,

Ouch, as I think many of us would have walked into the same trap. I don’t think East can misguess spades though, as playing a small spade to the Queen loses and the defence just exit passively so declarer still loses to the S10 eventually. The only hope is that South holds that card.

In terms of the quote, it reminded me of an unkind theatre review of one actor’s performance in King Lear: “He played the King as if expecting someone else to play the Ace”.



bobbywolffOctober 18th, 2018 at 1:13 pm

Hi Iain,

Since you’ve always had a way with words, no doubt you especially appreciate that theater review of the King Lear actor.

And, according to today’s quote, the British Queen Elizabeth was not shy in claiming what she at least considers, her due.

Finally Sylvia, although being Shy, was not acting the part when she took her spectacular winning diamond finesse to land her contract.

However, losing nine IMPs for her effort didn’t then and doesn’t now, seem like justice served, especially for someone who might one fine day, become a world bridge queen.

Bob LiptonOctober 18th, 2018 at 1:37 pm

It’s good to keep this in mind, every time I I have to take a first-round hook, to make a contract, and lose to the stiff jack offside, going down two instead of one. Sometimes it seems that we play this game out of masochism.

Still, when the Romans gave someone a triumph, they would stick a slave next to him, under orders to whisper “You’re going to die someday” to him.

bobbywolffOctober 18th, 2018 at 2:41 pm

Hi Bob,

FYI and if it is relevant, Sylvia did not take a 1st round hook in diamonds, but perhaps you are referring to a similar case of bridge misfortune you would like to forget.

However, both your mention of masochism and the revelation of Roman types of torture are educational, if for no other reason than strong evidence of human depravity through the ages.

Iain ClimieOctober 18th, 2018 at 2:59 pm

Hi Bobby, Bob,

A classic case of what Bob is worried about would be a trump suit of AKJ10xx opposite xx where the best %age play is a first round finesse as Qxxx onside is 4 times as likely as singleton Q offside. We all know what happens next, especially when partner helpfully says “You could have cashed one top trump first”.

Mind you, hard luck stories are all part of the games perverse pleasure; you never hear chess players bemoaning what their opponents have done to them more by luck than judgement, and of course there isn’t the partner factor. Who amongst us hasn’t mournfully emulated Mollo’s Karapet on occasion? The trick is to make the story entertaining for others and eventually (after a few months or even years) see the funny side. Did Eddie Kantar ever recover from the CK10 under AQ defending 7C in the Bermuda Bowl I wonder?

On the slave comment front, Ozymandias may be relevant or just good golfers missing absurdly short puts.


bobbywolffOctober 19th, 2018 at 9:21 am

Hi Iain,

No doubt, at least to me, that your summation applied much more directly to Bob’s lament than did I. What is more, it does refer closely to failed bridge bids or plays, both percentage ones, and others, not particularly so.

In America, if and when the theoretical best bridge play was taken, only to be met with an anti-percentage losing result, a common excuse by pals of the sad devil was to refer to his action as “Buck up, what you did was all a mule could do”. True, and melancholy but still a show of support for an embarrassed colleague.

And speaking of Eddie Kantar and his K10 of clubs, Bermuda, 1975, the 25th anniversary of the original Bermuda Bowl (to which Bob Hamman and I were his teammates) a couple of days before and when our team was celebrating a very close semi-final win against France, Eddie was first in the spotlight when he admitted to almost, but not quite, making a losing play on defense (which would have eliminated us from having to play in that ill fated final) while in our teams hotel suite on the 16th floor of the Southhampton Princess hotel. He admitted to,”if I would have led the diamond rather than the spade, we would have lost and I would have felt compelled to jump out that window”. To which Bob Hamman quickly retorted, “Eddie, you wouldn’t have had to”!!!

The laughs that produced brought the team, as humor always seems to, closer together, only to experience the antithesis a couple of days later.

But with Eddie’s off-the-charts charm, methinks his sense of humor could see him through any adversity and allow him and all around him to make the best of whatever lady luck has in store for any and everyone.

And Iain, you and likely Bob Lipton as well, have quite a fabulous memory as well as perhaps the great asset of being able to laugh at oneself.

internet datin sitesOctober 23rd, 2018 at 2:46 am

” These are the main reasons why it really is impossible to become a great leader and not be compensated in equal value for the value that you simply give. In this information I want to speak about a thing that has personally brought a lot of money into my pocket over the years. Just because it’s free and easy to start out usually do not for the minute underestimate how powerful it’s.