Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, March 1st, 2019

If you carry this resolution … you will send a British Foreign Secretary, whoever he may be, naked into the conference chamber.

Aneurin Bevan

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

*Game forcing with spade support


The art of the striptease can be perfected at the bridge table as well in the nightclub. If you can draw trumps and leave yourself with at least one trump in each hand, you can often remove cards from unimportant suits and throw the opponents on lead. You can then force them to give a ruff-sluff or to open up a suit to your advantage. This strategy will also work in no-trump, though not as frequently.

In today’s deal, consider the play in four spades on a neutral trump lead. The correct approach after winning the second trump is to play the club ace and a second club, since this is the suit where there is no benefit in having the opponents tackle the suit as opposed to leading it yourself. East’s best play is to win the club and shift to the diamond 10. There is no good reason not to finesse, but when West covers your jack, you win the king and play two more rounds of diamonds.

East will win the third diamond and shift to a heart (probably a low one, since this would beat the contract by force if the heart nine and seven were switched). You run the heart around to dummy, capturing West’s jack with the ace, then finesse against the queen to make 10 tricks.

As a side note, if East shifts to the heart queen at trick eight, he presents you with a choice: Will you play him for both heart honors or just the queen? Unless East is an expert, assume he has both honors.

Hands like this emphasize the necessity for Checkback Stayman, using the other minor as a forcing relay to learn whether your side has a 5-3 spade fit. If it does, you surely want to play in four spades; if not, three no-trump. So, bid two clubs and act accordingly over the response.


♠ K Q 7 6 3
 A 10 2
 K 7 2
♣ 10 5
South West North East
    1 Pass
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


Iain ClimieMarch 15th, 2019 at 2:03 pm

Hi Bobby,

Just for interest ‘Nye Bevan’s quote was about the common suggestions in the 1950s and later that Britain should abandon its independent nuclear deterrent.



bobbywolffMarch 15th, 2019 at 3:36 pm

Hi Iain,

And speaking of embarrassment, as you vitally reminded time, place and name, with today’s bridge hand, the declarer may have won the second spade in dummy and depending on what he thought of both defenders led a club from dummy and then solefully (poor ethics, but not likely to be punished) rose with the ace and led back the jack in order to provoke a relatively inexperienced player to rise with his king.

Then, of course, chances for declarer success increase geometrically while waiting for West to now perhaps lead a minor suit back into the jaws of death.

Moral-Persuading suckers to err, makes it easier to win, than having to guess the location of specific cards.

Just for fun imagine East winning the club, especially with his queen and instead of a diamond switch then produces the queen of hearts, but then shows up with the queen of diamonds but no jack of hearts, but not until declarer decides to then play the ace, king and another diamond.

Iain ClimieMarch 15th, 2019 at 8:42 pm

Hi Bobby,

There does seem to be massive potential for TOCM here, probably in more than one suit. Also, the rule of restricted choice when East / West (whoever’s been endplayed to lead a heart) but holds QJx(x) – now the J is the obvious attempt to deny the Queen and pretend you’ve got Jxx(x) but then declarer would expect that from a decent defender so maybe the Queen suggests I’m too clever to play the Jack as an obvious false card. As you often say, beyond a certain level, psychology becomes a really big thing.



bobbywolffMarch 15th, 2019 at 10:24 pm

Hi Iain,

Similar to when Romeo meets his Juliet, he will describe love as not only a big thing, but rather the ONLY THING.

So it becomes, as you repeated, when bridge champs collide, the psychology involved (in many areas, including but not limited to the opening lead and overwhelmingly in competitive bidding), becomes the prime difference which separates winning from losing.

Similar to overall strategy in golf, including club selection, adjusting one’s tennis game to his opponent. player matchups in basketball, pitching in baseball, and play calling in American football.

For soccer, someone will have to help me.

Why is america called America when America includes both south and borth Anerica?
Isn’t it wrong to contact the united states America and the citizens of the united
states People in america. Brazillians are American, Canadians are American, Mexicans are People in america, and so forth to add every country that is in both North, south, and central America.
I don’t know about American English however in british English (the initial so correct English), North and SOUTH USA continents combined is named the
“AmericaS” the “S” is the difference and the USA is named america or the united states or ‘Murcia