Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 18th, 2019

We never do anything well till we cease to think about the manner of doing it.

William Hazlitt

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


At the 1997 Bermuda Bowl, Paul Thurston of Canada had the opportunity for a simple but elegant play. See if you can match him.

After East’s weak jump overcall of three clubs, Thurston stretched to force to game with a call of three diamonds, and soon found himself in to the diamond game when his partner made a forcing raise to four diamonds.

Yes, three no-trump might have come home on an endplay against West, but five diamonds also had play — even if the contract appeared to need the spade break.

After winning the opening lead in dummy, South drew one round of trumps, then followed with the two top spades, and ruffed a spade in hand. Things might have seemed bleak when that suit broke 4-2, but declarer pressed on with a second round of trumps to the ace, pleased to see them breaking, and led another spade.

When East discarded a second club, Thurston now made the key play of discarding a club from his hand on the spade loser, putting West on lead with only hearts to lead. He did his best by leading a low heart to the 10 and king, but now declarer could enter the North hand with a trump and pitch his last club on dummy’s fifth spade. Declarer could now ruff his heart loser in dummy for his 11th trick.

Had declarer ruffed the fourth round of spades in hand instead of discarding on that trick, he would have made only 10 tricks. The endplay against West was necessary to bring home his game.

If you play a forcing no-trump, then the simple raise is constructive; if not, the simple raise could be anywhere between 5 and 10 points. In the former case, you should simply bid game and not give away information to the opponents to help them with the lead. If the raise is not guaranteed to be constructive, make a help-suit game-try of three diamonds to let partner evaluate his hand.


♠ A K 7 4 2
 8 4
 A 10 8 6
♣ A 4
South West North East
1 ♠ 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


David WarheitAugust 1st, 2019 at 10:06 am

S wins the opening lead with the CA and leads a S to his 8. W wins and returns, let’s say, a D. S wins and leads the SJ. The intrafinesse works, D are 2-2, and S makes 5D tricks, 4S tricks and either dumps all his H on dummy’s S tricks, losing a C & ruffing a C, or wins the HK if W cashes his HA when in with the first S and dumps all his C on dummy’s S tricks and ruffs the 3rd H, either way making 5D. There, pursuant to your challenge, I matched the actual declarer.

bobbywolffAugust 2nd, 2019 at 12:39 am

Hi David,

And while doing it, made what usually is a valid notion that East would rise with the spade queen if he had it.

Those assumptions contribute to a larger than expected success rate and, with some rare exceptions, defy exact percentages, though they are difficult to calibrate.

Yes you matched the actual declarer and with expert style. Nothing I wouldn’t have expected.