Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

A sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.

Washington Irving

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



All of our deals have a common theme this week: how to play suit combinations that include the ace, king and jack.

This deal occurred in the final of a major national tournament, on Vugraph no less, so that declarer’s eventual embarrassment was evident to all when he missed the best play. Out of deference to the player (and perhaps partly out of concern about what might happen to my grandchildren if I mention his name) I shall preserve his anonymity.

North treated his hand as very strong and balanced, then tried to get out in diamonds, but South wasn’t in on the joke and eventually, much to his disgust, ended in a grand slam with only two trumps in hand.

Perhaps the auction influenced his line of play: He won the club lead in dummy, cashed the diamond ace, then came to hand in clubs to finesse the diamonds. The finesse won, but the 4-1 trump break was too much for him to cope with.

Of course, the percentage play with this trump suit is to take two finesses. Win the club lead and pass the diamond nine at once. When it holds, repeat the finesse and draw trumps, after which you have 13 tricks.

The reason this play is right is that if trumps are 4-1, with West having the length, it is four times as likely that the singleton is a small one rather than the queen. With any other lie of the diamonds, the question of whether you take the first- or second-round finesse is irrelevant.

Clearly, you have a hand worth raising spades — but to what level? A jump to four spades shows three or four trumps, tending to deny a high-card control such as an ace or king. With three third-round controls, you might choose to raise to three spades rather than four, but this seems just a little too much to me. With as little as an additional jack in diamonds or spades, I might feel differently.


♠ Q 9 6 4
 10 4
 Q 8 3 2
♣ 9 5 4
South West North East
    2 ♣ Pass
2 Pass 2 ♠ 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 23rd, 2019 at 2:15 pm

Hi Dear Mr.Wolff
If diamonds can be brought home , perhaps this hand merits playing in 7 NT. You may please reflect.
And in a lighter vein , once the diamonds are brought home , there are sixteen superfluous tricks

David WarheitApril 23rd, 2019 at 2:33 pm

AVRR: 7NT makes and yes it can make simply by taking the D finesse (and if you do so, this time you should first cash the A), but the proper line of play would be for declarer to cash N’s hearts and DAK and SA and CA, then come to his hand with CK and run hearts and CQ, pulling off a nonsimultaneous double squeeze (E squeezed in C & S & W in D & S), while he also would have succeeded if the DQ or the CJ had fallen.

Bobby WolffApril 23rd, 2019 at 2:42 pm


What you pointed out is a clear bidding error by NS in not bidding at least 10 NT, but also then making an overtrick with a winning club finesse.

However, in truth, because of the “silly” 13 trick rule that will prevent declarer to execute the brilliant throwing winners on winners coup which I, hopefully applied only in my formulated years.

Perhaps we should “lobby” for declarer tricks to be carried over to a future hand. No doubt, we over bidders could use some help.

Truly, if 7NT is the final contract and with a major suit lead, a diamond finesse is not at all appealing, but first hoping for the diamond queen to fall, but if not settling for the club finesse or better yet a double squeeze by forcing West to hold the queen of diamonds and East to protect the jack of clubs, causing dummy’s 10 of spades to score the grand slam trick.

However we will still lose the board to those playing B-A-M scoring for not making overtricks.

Bobby WolffApril 23rd, 2019 at 2:45 pm

Hi David,

I have immediately enrolled in typing school to speed up since your competition has gotten too tough.

jim2April 23rd, 2019 at 3:03 pm

Sadly, even though we held the same cards, our team had been eliminated when we pulled the cards out of the board for this hand in the Slush Cup.

No matter. This would have sunk us anyway.

I held the East cards. Our other pair had played 7D and went down just as the not-to-be-named expert did.

The clowns at my table had a bidding misunderstanding and landed in 7C and never even had the chance to screw up diamonds.

Last I saw them, they were still sitting there, their mutual, strident, and quite colorful recriminations replaced by stunned silence.

A.V.Ramana RaoApril 23rd, 2019 at 3:03 pm

Hi David
Yes , the non simultaneous double squeeze would be what the Doctor just ordered and one would derive immense pleasure by executing the same. ( justifying the case for bidding 7NT) But Jim2 might mention that if he were to play the hand , TOCM would make sure that west held diamond and club guards while east is stacked up with spades and the hand would explode while simple double finesse in diamonds would ensure the GS

A.V.Ramana RaoApril 23rd, 2019 at 3:20 pm

Dear Mr. Wolff
And in case we opt for double squeeze in 7 NT , we need west to hold diamond Q and east to protect clubs. Ironically , we need not take either finesse. Just cash A and K of diamonds and A and K of clubs. This is what makes the beauty of this game really sublime

Bobby WolffApril 23rd, 2019 at 5:51 pm


But, for, and why the victims of TOFCM, a newer elixir, nature created for people who are unlucky at love, but lucky in cards. Both East had the singleton Q in diamonds and West the Jxx in clubs on today’s column hand, just in case he or she needed them.

BTW, TOFCM stands for theory of favorable card migration and to which I was given a cool supply, but, of course, with all the research which went into, not to mention the off-the-charts expensive mix, well we’ll talk about the price should you want to be given a shot.

Also scholarships to a few great Universities for winning ten master points in bridge are thrown in for the right price (a little steep) so that your offspring can enjoy a few years improving their culture and above all, attending their sporting events rather than classes.

However, please refrain from mentioning this offer to anyone else (under penalty of death), so that we can keep the riff-raff out.

Michael BeyroutiApril 23rd, 2019 at 8:18 pm

We need a “Like” button on this site!

Bobby WolffApril 23rd, 2019 at 9:11 pm

Hi Michael,


We all should feel surrounded by LOVE! At least I do, with both giving and receiving.
You can’t do one without the other.

JudyApril 23rd, 2019 at 9:14 pm


jim2April 23rd, 2019 at 10:49 pm

I confess that I have used TOFCM. Rather, I have said the words aloud a great many times, though hopefully under my breath, because my “F” was not “Favorable.”

Bobby WolffApril 24th, 2019 at 1:24 am

Hi Jim2,

Obviously then the “F” meant fashionable, meaning the hand is well distributed for the declarer.

However I get it, you were defending.

OK, not quite that.

A.V.Ramana RaoApril 24th, 2019 at 3:39 am

But perhaps “F” in TOFCM might turn out to be “Fiendish”

David WarheitApril 24th, 2019 at 5:26 am

No, F stands for “fooljah”!

A.V.Ramana RaoApril 24th, 2019 at 11:54 am

What is the meaning of the word “fooljah” pl?

Bobby WolffApril 24th, 2019 at 4:57 pm


“Fooled you!