Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

Proof is the idol before whom the pure mathematician tortures himself.

Arthur Eddington

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


There is no denying that if you want to do well at pairs, there are two essential ingredients: You need to be both skillful and lucky. This deal is from the Women’s Pairs in Sanremo, Italy, almost a decade ago at the European Open Championships.

As a passed hand, South, Nevena Senior, playing with Sandra Penfold, was no doubt pleased and surprised to find herself declarer in three diamonds. It was then up to her to make it.

West led the heart king and continued the suit, allowing the defenders to cash out three heart tricks. Next came a shift by East to the spade 10. What was declarer to make of the hand now?

Senior assumed that West probably had the spade queen, so she let East’s spade run around to dummy’s king, then she drew trumps in two rounds, West discarding a club on the second round.

From the fact that West had passed initially, plus the spot cards played so far, Senior thought it likely that East had begun with a 5-2-1-5 shape. And East surely held the club ace, so leading to the club king was a non-starter. Instead, she cashed the spade ace, denuding East of that suit, then played a club to the 10. East could win the trick, but was endplayed. If she led a club, declarer would pitch her spade loser on the club king; if she played a heart, the ruff-sluff would allow South’s losing spade to vanish.

I’m prepared to accept the reputation of being an out-of-date fuddy-duddy. You would never see me pre-empt with this hand in any position or vulnerability, since it combines the worst possible holding for offense and the best for defense facing shortness, while being highly suitable for play in either major, coupled with loads of defense on the side. Passing is mandatory here.


♠ A J 3
 10 8 4
 A 9 8 7 5 3
♣ 3
South West North East

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 WarheitJanuary 1st, 2019 at 9:29 am

E should play H2 at trick 1. W can clearly read this as a request for a C not a S shift, so he shifts to a C. If he does so, normal play will now defeat 3D. Or EW can play 4C and make it if they play N for K third of C. And to all a Happy New Year!

A V Ramana RaoJanuary 1st, 2019 at 12:17 pm

Dear Mr. Wolff
And all bloggers
” Wishing You and Your Families A Very Happy New Year 2019 ”

bobbywolffJanuary 1st, 2019 at 1:16 pm

Hi David,

Right on both counts.

However East may be an example of being numerate enough to inveigle a club shift by his partner at trick 2. However if declarer ducks completely (instead of the more likely play of the king or even the ten, but all declarer needs to do is, after the defensive business is includes winning the queen after declarer ducks completely (including a 4th round of hearts by East, forcing declarer to guess the EW trump holding) is to then lead the king of clubs from dummy forcing East to cover and then squeeze West in the black suits at the death. However if East allows West’s c;lub six to win the trick, smartly applying the rule of eleven to West’s club six lead.

Then, and if, no squeeze, and thus no make.

Result also being, Arthur Eddington, the author of today’s quote, would prove his point by East allowing partner’s club six to win, but not without torturing himself, by, no doubt, holding his breath, until and unless that trick became successfully quitted.

An exciting way to bring in the New Year, if in fact EW cooperates in both switching to a club at trick two and, of course, follow up, by defending correctly.

bobbywolffJanuary 1st, 2019 at 1:27 pm


I’ll take the liberty of replying for our own and complete AOB entourage, back at you for the same health, happiness and prosperity for your family and everyone, including both great bidding decisions and better than 50% winning finesses in 2019.

Bill CubleyJanuary 2nd, 2019 at 8:14 pm

Happy New Year.
I am back from Charleston. Some good adventures and some foolishness paid off. I made an insufficient bid of 2NT with a strong hand, but no one noticed until I was passed out. So I was down 1 but the others bid correctly and were down 2. I have no excuse as we were all sober.

On the positive side I kibitzed Cecelia Rimstedt Friday night. Good for me, maybe not for her.

Opps last night seriously were rude about us in a Howell at the table switch. We just turned the card and all heck broke out. There were 2 Director calls and the lady [loosey used here] was told to accept the ruling that nothing was amiss. She was told to stop insulting me with “Mansplaining” and “Misogynist”

Humorously, she turned the guide card after the match! Frosting on the cafe was we WON! Then we had a drink!

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