Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, March 18th, 2019

When I consider life, ‘tis all a cheat.

John Dryden

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



These days in almost every auction where the opponents bid or double, it is possible for responder to play transfers — and today’s deal from the Silodor Open Pairs in Philadelphia last year was no exception. The auction might have developed in a similar fashion, with South declaring three diamonds, if West had made a pre-emptive jump to two spades, but his initial call of two hearts showed six spades of indeterminate range.

The question of how many tricks South would emerge with in three diamonds had a slightly surprising answer, though. You’d expect West to lead a doubleton club and South to take East’s queen, draw trumps in two rounds, then set up a club for the ninth trick.

Instead, East managed to throw an intriguing diversion at the first trick when he played the club king, trying to suggest a different lie of that suit to declarer.

It worked to perfection! South was now sure West had three clubs and six spades, and clearly at least three hearts from the bidding. So she drew just one round of trumps with the ace and played a second club. East won the queen and could have played for the spade ruff, but that would have produced only four tricks. Instead, he cashed the heart king as West gave count, then played a third club. Declarer guessed to discard a spade, and West ruffed in with the jack and played the spade ace and a second spade to give partner the ruff and set the hand.

Your goal here should be to keep declarer from scoring cheap tricks with his small clubs. Lead the diamond jack in an attempt to build discards for yourself, so you can pitch spades and overruff your right-hand opponent. (Even if partner had opened one heart rather than one spade, I would lead the diamond jack.)


♠ 8 7 3
 K 7 4
 J 10
♣ K Q 10 7 4
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♠ 2 ♣
Pass Pass Dbl. All 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 ClimieApril 1st, 2019 at 9:18 am

Hi Bobby,

A bit careless of South not asking why West had led C4 then C3 from 3 small clubs, although ruffing with the D9 doesn’t help either. Similarly, when East turns up with the CQ what was going on at T1? It is all too easy to make early assumptions and not review them in the light of changes later in the hand.



A.V.Ramana RaoApril 1st, 2019 at 12:49 pm

Hi dear Mr. Wolff
But South should not have falle for the bit of chicanery from east. All he should have done is draw two trumps with A and Q. Assuming west held singleton trump and three clubs to Q, south can now get out with club which west wins and does best by leading heart for east to win and now if east leads a spade and gets spade ruff, south scores nine tricks . Even if east leads trump, dummy wins for cashing club trick for a spade pitch. There is no way the hand can get defeated. South was wrong in both theory and practice and Of course, when both E W follow to second trump ( column line) the sailing is smooth for south

bobbywolffApril 1st, 2019 at 2:45 pm

Hi Iain & AVRR,

No doubt both you two bridge detectives would not come anywhere near falling for what turned out to be a successful ruse for today’s East.

Sometimes in the heat of the battle, an inexperienced declarer will not think to ask why West was leading a supposed middle from an original holding of three to an honor.

And to make it look like a lucky stroke for a hopeful (but lazy) declarer allowed him to lose concentration and choose “fluid drive” instead.

Thanks to both of you for teaching how to deal with such carelessness and exact a deserved result for South.

At least to me, the strangest choice made was made by East, when he decided to play the king of clubs at trick one in the hopes of deceiving declarer, instead of his partner, and then proceeded to prove his point.

That one would remind all of us what chaos might befall Jim2 with his TOCM TM if and when his partner would treat him the same way East did today. No doubt it would result in at least one less trick for the defense because of it, through, of course, no fault of Jim2.

One truth for sure, like the “never give up” American, Helen Keller (blind and deaf) and her marvelously constructive life, in spite of her born handicaps, we all love Jim2, bemoan his bridge fate and, unlike today’s declarer, suffer along with him.