Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, December 7th, 2018

When a man’s life is at stake, no delay is too long.


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


The man who decided that one should “never put off until tomorrow something you can do today” was off target. In the Sermon on the Mount, the aphorism that “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” is far closer to the truth.

There are occasions when you need to rush at bridge, to take or set up discards, or, more frequently, to draw trumps before something bad happens. But when it comes to guesses in a side suit, it is often the case that the more information you have, the more likely you are to guess well.

Take today’s deal, for example, where you play four spades on repeated heart leads. The first critical issue is to remember to ruff with a trump intermediate, preserving the six. Then cross with another trump intermediate to dummy’s ace and play a second trump. The good news is that you have been able to hold your trump losers to one. When a top club comes back, you duck, then take the club ace, ruff a club and trump a heart high. At this point, you almost have a complete count of the West hand. That player has seven hearts, two spades and at least three clubs, so no more than one diamond.

When you cross to a top diamond in dummy and lead a small diamond from the board, East must split his J-10; unless you were careful enough to preserve the spade six in hand and the seven in dummy, you will be unable to cross to the board to repeat the diamond finesse. But you were careful … weren’t you?

You have a good hand for the auction so far. So, you must compete again, and the fact that you bid only two clubs the first time out and didn’t try for game means that (assuming partner is on the same wavelength) it should be safe to bid two no-trump now. This shows clubs and diamonds — presumably equal or better clubs — and lets partner off the hook if he has doubled on an off-shape hand.


♠ K J
 5 3
 J 10 8 3
♣ Q J 10 7 4
South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
2 ♣ Pass Pass 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


A V Ramana RaoDecember 21st, 2018 at 12:32 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Merry Christmas and Festive season
Perhaps , after ruffing second heart ( of course with an intermediate trump) south can lead a small club. Probably west wins and lead another heart. South ruffs again , strips clubs and leads A of spades and spade. Whoever wins has to either open diamonds or provide a ruff and sluff. And needless to say, south has complete count of the hand by now.
As can be seen , south needs trump break . And if singleton K happens to be with west , then there is no problem at all.

A V Ramana RaoDecember 21st, 2018 at 12:45 pm

What I meant is that the play is simplified if west happens to win the second spade and just in case east won it, the prudence of retaining low spade in hand has paid off

Bobby WolffDecember 21st, 2018 at 4:05 pm


Yes, your line could be an easier road to counting the hand in order, like Valentines Day, to choose the right diamond play.

But what if West had been dealt a singleton club, instead of a diamond, and thus is enabled to ruff away your success? No doubt, a singleton club is not quite as likely as a singleton diamond, but, after due consideration, it, indeed, is a live possibility.

However, and no doubt, you easily see what is intended to be taught by the method suggested. How one goes about it, is, of course, also important, but lesser emphasized, although to be a great cook, e.g. a top player, one has to sort out various choices and in order to respond to the emergency of getting this hand right I would vote for the column choice.

What about you? Whichever you choose will not take away from your excellent technical ability already known and shown many times.

Also, much happiness during this holiday season for you and all your loved ones and thanks for your continued important contributions to our mutual site.

A V Ramana RaoDecember 21st, 2018 at 4:17 pm

Yes , albeit remote , west could have singleton club .That is a point which I did not consider in which case the column line is obviously superior

Ken MooreDecember 21st, 2018 at 8:56 pm


I have a question on sacrifices. If it had been N/S vulnerable and not E/W, it seems that bidding 5H is risking 700 toward a possible 2 down doubled for 300. That, on top of extending the rubber for a possible turn around.

You almost never talk about sacrifices (not a very popular topic). Maybe you could address that sometime.

Bobby WolffDecember 22nd, 2018 at 1:39 am

Hi Ken,

Yes, I will now talk about sacrifices. The only requirement for listening is to promise to be right whatever one does. And that, of course, is before the dummy comes down, so that only guesswork prevails, not science.

Taking sacrifices in bridge is like negotiating prices in real life. It rarely matters exactly how many tricks are needed for success since a good sacrifice (down something) gets good results if it is less than the opponents could have scored if they had been allowed to play their game (or slam) contract and, of course made it.

However, even that becomes problematical since that will probably take guessing where key cards are and playing the hand to best advantage.

IOW, take Al Davis’ advice in professional football, “Just be right, baby” and everything will fall into place.

Psychology is the key word, which means knowing as much as possible about who the opponents are and how they react during the bidding.

Always take advantage of their tendencies and expect them to fall into traps.

Vary the tactics so that the opponents will never be confident they are doing the right thing when playing against you.

All the above is the only thing and thus everything, anyone needs to know, but talking about it rather than proving it, doesn’t do the job.

mot hÄravfallDecember 25th, 2018 at 8:53 pm

Thanks extremely helpful. Will share site with my pals.