Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, December 20th, 2018

It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honored by the humiliation of their fellow beings.

Mahatma Gandhi

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


This contract of three no-trump from the second round of the Swiss Teams event from the 2009 European Open Championships appears relatively easy to make. But on defense, Romania’s Veronel Lungu and Viorel Micescu weren’t ready to roll over.

Lungu led a fourth-highest spade two against three no-trump, and declarer played low from dummy, taking East’s jack with the queen. It now seemed natural to go after diamonds. East took West’s king with his ace and played another spade, ducked around to West’s king.

If the defenders had continued the attack on spades, declarer would have had no choice but to rely on hearts and would have cashed out his red-suit winners. Instead, though, West switched to a club at trick four. Declarer ducked in dummy, and East took his queen and reverted to spades.

The defenders were now up to four tricks, but declarer still seemed to be in pole position. However, when South won the spade ace and crossed to dummy with the heart ace, East dropped the jack, perhaps more in hope than expectation.

But it worked: Declarer decided that he had only four heart tricks, and so needed to set up a club trick. Since West had earlier failed to clear the spades at trick four, it seemed logical to place the club ace with East. Accordingly, declarer abandoned hearts prematurely and advanced the club king.

When West won his ace and cashed his last spade, another “unbeatable” game had bitten the dust.

The hand may be relatively balanced, but you have no reason to assume no-trump is correct. Since only two suits have been bid, you should bid three hearts here to show heart values. Partner can bid no-trump, or three spades to express doubt about three no-trump (you will respond three no-trump) or go past three no-trump if he is short in spades.


♠ 10 8 3
 A 4
 K Q J 7 2
♣ K J 6
South West North East
1 Pass 2 ♣ 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

1 Comment

bobbywolffJanuary 3rd, 2019 at 3:11 pm

Hi everyone,

Although no one has yet commented on this almost 10 year old “real” hand, it represents to me how really great defenders, acting in concert, can mentally invade a very good declarer’s mind and as a reward, allow him to fall on his own sword.

Let’s think along with declarer as the play develops. West led his lowest spade, whether from three or four. I, as only a source of hands, was not given the exact spots played in any of the specific suits, so need to just “guess” what they were, but since defense sometimes suggest legitimacy in helping partner, at significant other times, deception to fool declarer (particularly a good one) should,
in fact rule, if it is so determined by the highly skilled defense that it is required (at least on this hand, note West’s 4 small hearts, unless partner East had a double honor.

Methinks, if this hand occurred while I was declarer, I might (probably would) be humiliated, to honor Gandhi’s great quote,
and play West for 3-5-2-3 instead of what he had, 4-4-2-3.

Of course the spots, particularly East’s return in spades might be critical in “guessing” the original defensive distributions, but for the grace of the card playing god, go I.

Also please do not overlook in analysis, what turned out to be the great falsecard of the heart jack (a normal ruse from a highly experienced player).

At least to me, and for the best and brightest hopefully aspiring players, this hand represents, from the declarer and the defenders, all that is best in our fantastic mind game that we, on this site, all love.