Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, June 13th, 2019

If we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world.

John Winthrop

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

*Texas transfer for hearts


The Monty Hall problem arose on “Let’s Make a Deal.” The contestant was presented with three doors; behind one was a car, and behind the other two were goats. The contestant selected a door, then the quizmaster opened a different door to reveal a goat. Now should the contestant change his selection to the third door or stick with his original choice?

Interestingly, the contestant doubles his odds by switching his choice. He’d turn his car into a goat only if he had correctly selected the car with his first pick — a 1-in-3 chance. But he would win the car if he had originally picked either of the two goats — a 2-in-3 chance. The reason comes back to Restricted Choice; in each of the latter two cases, the host had only one goat left to reveal. However, if the first pick was the car, the host had a choice of goats to show you.

The biggest caveat for Restricted Choice comes when a player contributes a significant honor or spot-card where that play is not forced. Consider today’s slam, where when declarer cashes the heart king, he sees the 10 fall from East. The singleton 10 might seem more likely than J-10 doubleton, since we must reduce the chance of the latter by half — because East might have followed with the jack from that holding.

That is true, but East wasn’t forced to play the 10 from J-10-7, his actual holding in the diagram. Maybe only an expert would be capable of that false-card, but that is a completely different issue.

Fourth suit forcing sets up a game force. There is no need to jump to three hearts to show the sixth heart. That call should be reserved for a better suit than this. Simply bid two hearts here; this doesn’t guarantee a sixth heart, but it leaves more space for your partner to describe why he forced to game.


♠ K 4
 A Q 9 5 4 3
♣ A Q J 5
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ 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


Bruce KarlsonJune 27th, 2019 at 10:38 am

“Only an expert” would drop the 10… East knows from the auction that partner cannot have the trump K, as he or she has the only remaining key card. Ergo,,it is difficult for me (hardly an expert) to see the downside of the false card. As usual,I am likely missing something. Please advise; kindness is always appreciated,

Bob LiptonJune 27th, 2019 at 11:15 am

I was under the impression that the way the Monty Hall problem worked is that when you picked the door at the beginning, you had a 1/3 chance of choosing the right one; neither has that chance altered. However, when you get the chance to swap it, the other door has a 50% chance of being right…. so, since those are better odds, take them. But then, the Monty Hall problem is a tough one.



Iain ClimieJune 27th, 2019 at 11:48 am

Hi Bruce,

You’re dead right in theory, but the problem is remembering to do it (and smoothly) at the table. This is why this column is such a boon as well as a pleasure to read. You can slog through textbooks as well, of course, but that feels like work instead of fun.

Hi Bob,

Another explanation (because the problem really messes with most heads, although I’m used to conditional probvabiltiy having a statistics background) is that your initial choice is probably (2/3 of the time) wrong. In those cases, the host had to open the door he did to avoid showing the car and that will still be 2/3 of the time. Hence you switch choice.

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for that and one for the memory banks!



bobbywolffJune 27th, 2019 at 1:04 pm

Hi Bruce,

If it is kindness you want, kindness is what you are going to get, since, at the very least, you deserve it, with your genuine humbleness.

Yes, and no doubt, the play of the 10 (or the jack) of hearts on the first heart trick (the king by declarer) should be derigueur by East, to, for starters, be eminently correct, since, while earlier referred to by you (whether or not declarer had the king, which happened to be known by the bidding) since, as now realized, it is the only chance the defense has for the declarer to go wrong, ergo is the play to make.

Another on point holding by the defense might be, while holding the 109x behind the AJ8(x) in dummy with declarer leading a low one out of hand and having his LHO follow with another low one, and inserts the jack, the defender MUST play either the 10 or 9 in order to create an illusion to even a great declarer that your holding may be 109 doubleton causing him, if he originally held Q7xx (or similar) to then return to hand and follow up the original suit with the Queen hoping to catch the 109 doubleton with his RHO, but then be unlucky for the defense to now get a trick, brought about by the clever falsecard of the 10 or 9 from 109x.

However a disinterested observer should then surmise that declarer’s bad luck was only brought on by his RHO’s expertise in creating his good luck by that imaginative play.

This type of knowledge can and will come to players, while having above average numerical talent, keep their bridge knowledge on an upward path by observing from both the declarer and the defense position just how many potential situations arise in order to create legal deception, ripe among veteran and, of course, talented players on the way up the elevator to unlimited heights.

Finally, if one is watching a high level game, whether at the World Championship or perhaps only an average game at your local bridge club, these plays are often made, and if viewed, certainly to be admired, but better still to mentally then equip oneself with a winning tactic waiting to be incorporated by you.

Finally, and in the mood of wanting to fulfill your initial wish of kindness, you are very capable of being one of those potential players who will master these situations as you continue to delve deeper into what it takes to consistently sharpen your overall bridge game.


bobbywolffJune 27th, 2019 at 1:27 pm

Hi Bob,

You, indeed gave a relatively simplistic view of the Monty Hall problem and although I do not want to get your goat (or, of course) if on the program select a goat, I think the above example then becomes a classic definition of the power of RESTRICTED CHOICE in a non-bridge situation explained which works to perfection and makes heretofore 50% seeming choices (after failing with the first choice) rising to 662/3 declaring a contract, while playing bridge, instead of winning a new car (but only if you change your original pick to the other door for your second try).

Finally I can imagine doing the above to help you with only two projects):

1. teaching your advanced bridge course to soon to be brilliant bridge students.

2. winning more bridge tournaments than you ever imagined could occur.

The choice is yours! and, of course, GOOD LUCK, although you probably won’t need as much as your competition.

bobbywolffJune 27th, 2019 at 1:44 pm

Hi Iain,

And of course thanks as usual, for always taking the time to verify what your nothing short of superior bridge and people thoughts and instincts have led you to include.

My prediction for the future in this now troubled world is that if we can keep it from exploding in the next several hundred years many will experience the fruits of radical improvement with the human mind as our medical staff diligently turns its attention to improving the ability of brain power to significantly improve, enabling powerful longevity advances which will in turn. allow humankind to not only be around much longer, but also to live much more constructive and progressive lives and may even allow many to get along much better.

At least the above is my dream.