Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

Folly, you have conquered, and I must yield! Against stupidity the very gods Themselves contend in vain.

Friedrich Schiller

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


In today’s deal from a teams event at the 2009 European Open Championships in Sanremo, Italy, Ismail Kandemir and Suleyman Kolata of Turkey were on defense against three no-trump. Here, both defenders found neat maneuvers to defeat the game by giving declarer a sequence of losing options.

Kolata sat East when Kandemir led a top heart. Instead of overtaking to unblock the suit, he deliberately ducked, as did South. Now, on the low heart continuation to the king, declarer was seduced into ducking again, assuming the suit to be 4-3. Kolata found the killing shift to a top spade, won in dummy. He ducked declarer’s diamond play and won the second diamond. Then he sacrificed his spade trick to kill the diamonds by continuing with a second top spade.

The best declarer could do was take the spade 10, pitching a diamond from hand, then cash the heart ace, but East could keep his clubs, and take the last two tricks with a spade and a club winner.

Let’s revisit the deal after a similar start: a top heart lead, overtaken by East, followed by a top spade shift when South ducked. East ducked the first diamond and won the second diamond to sacrifice his spade trick in order to kill the diamonds.

When the defense started this way against Pierre Zimmermann, declarer overcame the defense by cashing three clubs and a heart, then exiting with a diamond. In the three-card ending, East had a club to cash, but only two spades left, while dummy had spade and diamond winners.

You should overcall one no-trump here, despite your small doubleton in a side suit. This is partly a tactical action — you want to make it harder for the opponents to locate an eight or nine-card fit in either major. Also, though, your hand has quick tricks, and you expect to have decent play for a no-trump game facing a maximum pass. If doubled, will you run? Watch this space.


♠ 7 4
 A 9 3
 Q 9 8
♣ A K Q 4 2
South West North East
    Pass 1

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 ClimieJanuary 2nd, 2019 at 12:39 pm

Hi Bobby,

Firstly a belated Happy New Year to you, Judy and everyone who contributes to the site (and reads it). Secondly, it is perhaps worth noting that East’s play of keeping the HK at T1 is made much easier by the rest of his hand – he knows partner has little if anything outside hearts while, if declarer has CAKQJx the defence is unlikely to be get very far at all. In addition, he has the SQ as a safe exit.

Presumably South took an optimistic view of his 15-17 (I assume) 1NT based on the club suit’s potential; dummy wasn’t quite what he expected or hope for, though. CJ alone, Jx or xxx would have been rather different. Even so, there does seem to be a modern tendency to bid tight NV games at IMPs, not just vulnerable ones where the maths is much clearer.



A V Ramana RaoJanuary 2nd, 2019 at 1:51 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Doubledummy , perhaps even the first declarer could have made it. After first diamond is ducked , south could have cashed hearts A squeezing east. Obviously he cannot discard either minor and has to part with spade. Now south plays diamond. If east wins and returns a spade , south gets four spade tricks and if east returns a club ,south wins and leads diamond
But as mentioned , it is strictly doubledummy or perhaps south needed a crystal.

A V Ramana RaoJanuary 2nd, 2019 at 1:51 pm

Sorry for omitting Regards

bobbywolffJanuary 2nd, 2019 at 2:48 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes and no doubt, South was optimistic with his continuation to game (especially being non-vulnerable) but as you suggested, that 5th club was just too much to resist since envisioning it as a third low spade instead would, no doubt have curbed his enthusiasm.

More importantly, thanks for the New Year hope, with Judy & I wishing back to you and yours, not only the same beautiful wishes, but hopefully a more peaceful world in 2019 leading to an even better 2020 where perfect eyesight may lead all of us and in every country, to create love rather than hate.

bobbywolffJanuary 2nd, 2019 at 3:14 pm


Included is an extra R in your name to give back the Regards you failed to mention, keeping in mind that I have forgiven you.

Especially so, since you continue to enlighten our site with your right-on usual A+ analysis.

As a matter of discussion East, because of the specific NS bidding, should be able to almost 100% at trick one, determine South’s almost exact hand (except declarers holding of the jack of clubs to which there would be no winning defense).

Although I think most all experienced players will agree with that, but the missed realization of it being possible will often cause a relatively new (even aspiring) player to sadly ignore that clairvoyance, many times to his own critical disadvantage.

For proof, consider East’s not playing a standard king on partner’s opening lead of the queen of hearts, allowing declarer to play the hand better.