Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 17th, 2019

An expert is a person who has found out by his own painful experience all the mistakes that one can make in a very narrow field.

Niels Bohr

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

*Sound heart raise


Bridge players are all too inclined to blame other people for their own misfortunes. At a long-ago Vanderbilt Trophy match, having scored up my own set, I lingered within earshot of some of my Texan colleagues, who were clearly trying to allocate culpability amongst themselves.

When today’s deal came up for discussion, the least tolerant of the four had brought home four hearts after his table’s West had led a trump. He had clearly expected to pick up a swing here. As he said: “After West led a trump, I won in dummy and led a low club. West got in again and played a second trump. Now I cashed my four diamonds, pitching the losing club from dummy, and took a ruff on the board. I thought I played it well. But did you find the trump lead?” he asked his team-mates. “We didn’t,” came the response. “After a spade lead, declarer ruffed the second spade low, then gave up a club. East led a low spade, forcing declarer to ruff high. South then had to be extremely careful; he had to lead a trump to dummy — playing for the 4-1 trump break — then cash three diamonds, ending in the North hand. (It doesn’t work to finish in hand, as the defenders will get a second trump play in prematurely.)

“Finally, he ruffed a spade high, ruffed his fourth diamond in dummy and ruffed a spade in hand. Frankly, I think our declarer had a harder task than you!”

For once, there was no response.

Your partner has suggested six good diamonds and some extras, maybe 14-16 points or so. Do you have enough to try for game, and if so, which one? It might be right to bid three hearts to find your way to three no-trump facing a club stopper, but you have no quick tricks on the side once the club stopper is knocked out. I’d pass, reluctantly, but I’d bid if the heart king were the ace.


♠ Q 7 4 3 2
 K 10 8
 A 5 3
♣ 5 4
South West North East
  1 ♣ 1 Pass
1 ♠ Pass 3 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


Shantanu RastogiMay 31st, 2019 at 12:03 pm

Hello Mr Wolff

In bid with the aces isnt passing a very pessimistic option? My point is where are partner’s 14 points ? If he has KQJ sixth in diamonds, club K and heart Ace and spade J isnt 3 NT cold ? Partner doesn’t know my diamond ace so with a flimsy check in clubs is reluctant to bid NT.

Best regards

Shantanu Rastogi

bobbywolffMay 31st, 2019 at 3:20 pm

Hi Shantanu,

First, a big welcome back, and thanks for joining us after too long being gone.

In answer to your question, no doubt the answer of what to do on the bidding sequence suggested is close. However if partner held s. s. Jx, h. Axx, d. KQJxxx, c. Kx he might have ventured an imaginative 2NT rebid instead of 3 diamonds since he had the club stop, a source of tricks and of course the ace of hearts which could and is, the source of the contract making trick.

Instead and to differentiate, his bidding 3 diamonds which could very well be: s. x, h. AQx, d. KQJ10xxs, c. Jx wherein he was in search of your having the critical club stop. If instead he held: s. x, h. AQxx, d. KQJ10xxx, c. x he might then have either made a 2 club cue bid (eliciting 2 diamonds to which he might then have just jumped to 5 diamonds or even instead have imaginatively ventured 2 hearts to which partner would have preferred 3 diamonds to which the original overcaller would then either bid 4 or 5 diamonds, and if only 4, partner with the king of hearts as a prize, would definitely accept the diamond game try.

Perhaps the above is at least slightly hind sight by me after comparing both hands, but whether it is or not, at least I hope it makes some sense to you (and other readers).

Don’t be a stranger, since we miss you and your always wise bridge acumen and overall logic.