Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Think of success as a game of chance in which you have control over the odds. As you begin to master concepts in personal achievement, you are increasing your odds of achieving success.

Bo Bennett

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


When is a finesse not a 50-50 chance? When you take a finesse, your odds of success can vary enormously, depending on what you know about the rest of the deal, but you can tilt the odds in your favor sometimes by making the opponents lead the suit in which you need to take the finesse.

Today’s deal shows a hand that appears to depend on the diamond finesse, but you can sway the odds in your favor — and in some cases, avoid the diamond finesse altogether. In other cases, you can turn a 50 percent chance into something much better.

Against six hearts (reached after an insouciant but practical jump to slam), you capture the spade king with your ace and draw trumps, ruffing dummy’s spades in hand en route. The best sequence of plays may be to take two rounds of trumps, then the club ace-king, followed by a spade ruff, a third trump to dummy and a second spade ruff.

Now you lead the club nine from hand and concede the trick that has to be lost, hoping the defenders will give you something in return. If East wins the club, you are safe against any return. If West wins, he must lead a diamond, and you simply cover his card.

The slam will come home if West has either the queen or both the 10 and nine, since you will be able to take two finesses against those cards. In other words, careful play has improved your chances in the slam from one in two to something closer to two in three.

If your partner had doubled in direct seat, you might have thought about jumping to two spades — you are on the cusp for that action. But facing a balancing double, you need a little more to jump. Remember that since partner knows his range starts somewhat lower for the reopening call, he will make another bid if he has real extra shape or values — say a king more than an opener.


♠ K Q J 2
 3 2
 10 9 3 2
♣ Q J 10
South West North East
Pass Pass Dbl. 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


A.V.Ramana RaoApril 11th, 2019 at 1:17 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
If diamond eight were in dummy, when west returns diamond ten when in with club nine, J from dummy, Q from east which south wins and finesse eight in dummy which has resemblance to yesterday’s column where the finesse of diamond eight nets the contract going trick ( and I thought Diamonds are only a girl’s best friends. How is that Mr. Wolff is using them for illustration!!! )

bobbywolffApril 11th, 2019 at 1:41 pm


You are speaking to the numeracy, which is often referred to, when speaking of the qualities needed in the making of a good+ player. While a player can cultivate that talent, without being born with it, it is indeed much easier to be a natural and not have to mentally wrestle with getting it right.

To each his own, but the above is just another reason why bridge should be taught throughout our educational system in America like it is in so many very wise countries around the world.

Why it isn’t lies in the fact that our National educational department hasn’t been promoted to anywhere near enough, explaining its wonderful fallout, beginning with basic math and continuing through competitive psychology, forming successful partnerships, and a great quality which to me has become somewhat lacking in this troubled world, every day proper ethics in both business and pleasure.

Maybe someday, but the time for getting it done is IMO, rapidly heading to a crises mode.