Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, December 25th, 2018

Great Britain is a republic with a hereditary president, while the United States is a monarchy with an elective king.

Knoxville Journal

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


In today’s deal, when South accepted his partner’s invitation, West led the club jack against four hearts. East overtook this with the ace and returned the club three, with West’s nine winning the trick. After cashing the club king, West continued with the club 10, and East discarded a second diamond as declarer ruffed in.

Declarer now needed to locate the trump queen. If he chose to play West for that card, he would probably need to make four tricks in spades too. Since that seemed to require too much good luck, declarer decided to play East for the critical queen.

Accordingly, declarer cashed the top spades, then ruffed a spade. After taking the diamond ace and ruffing a diamond low, declarer ruffed a second spade in hand, reducing himself to the ace and jack of hearts plus a diamond. Now, after trumping his remaining diamond with dummy’s king, declarer led a low trump and covered East’s seven with the jack. When that held, declarer had 10 tricks: two spades, five trumps, a diamond and two diamond ruffs.

Notice that if declarer had decided to play the diamond ace and ruff a diamond before playing on spades, he would have had to lead dummy’s low trump next and finesse against East’s queen. Then declarer would cash the spade king and ace and ruff a spade, reducing himself to the ace-jack of hearts and a diamond — the same position as above.

Does it seem outrageous to bid a second time with a 10-count, including a singleton queen? I don’t think so. Partner is marked with moderate values, and just because he doesn’t fit spades doesn’t mean you can’t make a part-score somewhere or push the opponents up a level.


♠ A J 9 8 5
 K 4 2
♣ 8 7 5 2
South West North East
Pass Pass Pass 1
1 ♠ 2 Pass 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


Mircea1January 8th, 2019 at 2:21 pm

I was very happy to see young Mr. Bobby Wolff along with the others Aces on the front page and featured article of this month’s ACBL Bulletin. Distant memories but I’m sure worth remembering for the members. Congratulations Bobby!

Would it be fair to say that choosing your partner in the team was exclusively a matter of partnership harmony and almost nothing to do with skill at bridge?

bobbywolffJanuary 8th, 2019 at 3:16 pm

Hi Mircea1,

First, welcome back, we all have missed your presence and consistent contributions.

Yes, bridge partnerships, likely like marriages, feature compatibility, rather than only high-level skills, for ultimate harmony and success.

Of course, either some or much of that togetherness, rests in similarity of outlook and bidding system to which partnerships should be (at least originally), chosen.

Specific caveats would be attitude toward natural and limit bidding (Acol), forcing club, and/or Standard American with five card majors, the more popular version with American tournament players for the last 50+ or so years.

No doubt the original 4 card major systems used to predominate long ago high-level bridge, but rightly or wrongly, that concept has faded out with high level bridge now taking on an atmosphere of artificiality featuring a more practical use of heretofore rarely (if ever) used bids in the past, which, no doubt if cards could speak, might cry out such as 1H P 2C P 4S: “I am so lonely since no one ever has made use of me before and I, at least, feel that “I need a “meaning” since I am just sitting here, wasting away. doing nothing to help a partnership get better.”.

Joking aside, bridge partners need to get along and develop disciplines for both of them to live with, happily giving and taking (as the case may be) but setting themselves up for a long term relationship which will always feature (at least in fulfilling its goal), the sky is the limit!

Add that to the probability of different results to the aging process, continued changes in lifestyles for one or both, different type of opportunities for one or the other and many other small but sensitive differences and it becomes easy to sense what could and does happen.

Proceeding a little off the point, both players need to be genuine lovers of the game, always with common goals of strictly following necessary active ethics with the expectation of never associating nor of course ever joining up with others who seek faster ways to success via either unethical or worse, illegal tools of the trade.

However, with a common devotion to the game itself, I heartily endorse the process.

JudyJanuary 8th, 2019 at 6:16 pm

Hi Mircea1,

Thanks for calling the January ACBL Bulletin to our attention. I had not checked our mail over the weekend .. and your message sent me flying .. as we had no idea it made the cover. What an honor!


Mircea1January 8th, 2019 at 10:19 pm

Hi Bobby,

In the BWTA, what would be your call? In my own view, double (for take-out) makes perfect sense. Would you agree?

Bobby WolffJanuary 9th, 2019 at 12:51 am

Hii Mircea1,

Yes, I do agree that double is the right back in bid, since when East passes 2 diamonds, it appears partner has a good hand, likely at least 4 diamonds, but of course, short in spaces (likely a singleton) but surely a rounded suit for our partnership to be safe.

Partner must not convert our TO reopening bid to penalties unless he has really good diamonds, since to do otherwise would keep partner, in this type of auction to reopen.

No partnership should ever fear partner doing the wrong thing and passing a low level reopening double without lights out defense, amounts to partner baiting.

The above is a little too strong, but hope my accent shows how I feel.

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