Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 2nd, 2019

A certain amount of distrust is wholesome, but not so much of others as of ourselves; neither vanity nor conceit can exist in the same atmosphere with it.

Madame Necker

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


At the Dyspeptics Club, everyone wisely mistrusts everybody else’s declarer play. Even so, when South showed a spade suit, North had some hope of slam. However, when South denied interest, North wisely did not go past game.

As he put down dummy, North remarked caustically that even South would find it difficult to go down here. Not so; West found the intelligent opening lead of a low trump, imagining his club strength would be over declarer’s and that partner would have hearts over the dummy. East liked the idea of playing a trump, but realized that if he won the ace and returned a trump, he would not be able to get in to play a third round of the suit. Accordingly, he ducked the opening lead. Declarer won in hand and crossed to dummy with a top heart to take a club finesse. But West won and fired back a second trump. Now when East won his ace and drew a third round of trumps, the vile club split meant there was nothing declarer could do; nine tricks were the limit.

South complained about his bad luck, but had only himself to blame. He should have won the spade 10, then played three rounds of hearts, ruffing high in hand. He could then play a diamond to the ace and ruff a second heart high. At this point, he would have the first seven tricks in the bag and be able to play the ace, king and a third diamond, ruffing low. He would have the club ace and two more sure trump tricks in dummy for 11 winners.

The concept of fit bids is controversial, but most agree that passed hands won’t introduce a new suit at the three-level or higher once their partner has acted, unless they have some degree of fit. By extension, facing a pre-empt, new suits at a high level (if they aren’t jumps to game) always promise a fit Here, a call of four clubs promises a spade fit. This will help partner compete and will help with the lead.


♠ K J 10 4
 10 5
 J 2
♣ A Q 10 6 5
South West North East
  1 2 ♠ 3

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


Bob LiptonAugust 16th, 2019 at 1:48 pm

And, given we were discussing attacking leads against slams earlier this week… If west choose the Club lead, South cashes the second club winner, plays the red suits as above, ruffing high three times.

Of course, South’s opening 1 Club and West’s holding in the suit should indicate that it’s not the best lead in the world. Still, as always, you pays your money and you takes your chances.


bobbywolffAugust 16th, 2019 at 2:29 pm

Hi Bob,

Yes, you IMO gave an accurate description of the wide variances in results within our game, when one side or the other turns a deaf ear to the bidding evidence shared.

South not only opened the bidding 1 club, but rebid 3 clubs after partner forced to game by bidding the 4th suit, 2 diamonds with his second bid. Therefore, even the thought of leading into declarer’s hand on opening lead with a club should deserve the bad fate which awaits.

However, and no doubt, unusual tactics, including contra indicated leads, sometimes create the best defense. However, in order to remind everyone of good advice given by a long ago American writer named Damon Runyon, (to which I have said before), who basically wrote for the gambling world, “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that is the way to bet”.

Add the above idiom to the necessity of listening to the evidence, before acting and it often becomes more crystal clear what not to do rather than the opposite, what to do, and initially, on this hand, leading a club fits the bill, if not in another suit, but than certainly perish the thought, in clubs.

Iain ClimieAugust 16th, 2019 at 6:40 pm

Hi Bobby,

Next time North should bid 3N o. ver 1S rolling home on the likely D lead. After all he has seen South play before!

As a trivial point, the line described today cashed the DA twice- not a criticism of the column but clearly South should resort to such tactics given his wonky card skills. We’ve all seen players like that including the guy who pulled off 2 similar suicide squeezes in a week when declaring hands where I was dummy.



Bobby WolffAugust 16th, 2019 at 10:37 pm

Hi Iain,

No doubt North should try and be declarer, especially with this South and has the added
advantage, in case the jack of diamonds didn’t hold at trick one, of South never knowing that he had hogged the bidding.

Also he could claim an extra diamond trick by using that ace for both times he cashed it. Playing at places akin to the Dyspeptic Club are rife for other advantages, a few even legal, but a good player (usually one or two if one has eagle eyes and can spot them) can still keep his ego in tow, leaving only his conscience to worry about.

If a cat did what your guy did with the suicide squeezes he’d only have seven left, but above all you, also, reaped the reward.

However, all in a day’s work, but a life of bridge, at the very least, beats sleeping under one.