Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Speak now, and I will answer;
How shall I help you, say.

A.E. Housman

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


Players come from all around the world to the Gold Coast tournament in Brisbane every February, both to escape winter in the Northern Hemisphere and to play in a fun event.

At one table, Roger Lee of the U.S. (with Michael Whibley of New Zealand) finished in four hearts from the South seat, like everyone else in the field, and if ever there was a pairs deal that proved the merits of protecting partner, this was it.

Put yourself in the East seat, when partner leads the club queen. Declarer wins in hand — as you drop the eight to encourage the lead — and draws two rounds of trumps. Plan the defense, bearing in mind that you are playing pairs.

At nine of the 14 tables, East did something other than signal forcefully for diamonds with his first discard. Declarer now led a spade to the king and ace, West exited with a club, and declarer got rid of a diamond loser to claim 10 tricks.

You could argue that West should have seen the need to cash the diamond ace without being helped. But what if declarer had begun with a 1-6-3-3 shape with king-third of diamonds and ace-third of clubs? Now cashing the diamond ace would throw away an overtrick unnecessarily, while exiting in clubs means that declarer would have to lose two diamond tricks eventually.

I do think West must take a fair share of the blame; but when East can make his partner’s life easier, it is up to him to do so.

I generally believe in introducing a four-card minor rather than rebidding a six-card major, but this hand has such weak clubs and decent hearts that it may be a sensible way to emphasize the minimum nature of the hand. If partner invites with a call of two no-trump, you can bid three clubs and describe your hand to a T.


♠ K
 K Q 9 8 5 2
 5 4
♣ A 9 3 2
South West North East
1 Pass 1 NT 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


jim2March 6th, 2019 at 1:28 pm

One also needs to protect one’s partner as declarer. Surely the outcome would be an aid to indigestion by North!

Is there much point in drawing more than one (If any at all) round of trump before KS?

I mean, why let them have a chance to signal?

Bobby WolffMarch 7th, 2019 at 3:44 pm

Hi Jim2,

Please excuse the delay in my response, but, of course, I am hiding behind the difficulty of playing (not so well) and computer problems within our host hotel, but all of the above is cannon fodder to what should be noted, your very useful advice.

No doubt, you are going above and beyond what many may overlook in the overall strategy of playing hands to best advantage. Of course you discount what you, alone, must always experience, since part of the overall insidious nature of TOCM TM may be (to be confirmed) a little bird sitting on the shoulder of the key defender advising him of the exact hand of the declarer, whether or not the declarer happens to be up to following your sage advice.

However, your selfless sage advice, may rattle from the mountaintops and rumble in the dell to make others benefit wherein you have to suffer the opponents always playing what is sometimes called, “double dummy”.

Member XXLMarch 9th, 2019 at 10:24 pm

Sustain the awesome job !! Lovin’ it!