Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 15th, 2019

You don’t have to be intelligent, but I think you have to be open to possibilities and willing to explore. The only stupid people are those who are arrogant and closed off.

Edward de Bono

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


Today’s deal is part of the week’s theme of the defenders maximizing their trump tricks. South had reached a respectable suit game when he converted three no-trump to four spades; his decision was sensible because if North didn’t have the spade ace, the South hand might have been worthless in no-trump.

West kicked off with a diamond, taken by dummy’s ace. Declarer naturally began to draw trumps, starting with 10. East knew that West would have led his lowest from three small in his partner’s suit. So the best chance for another trick seemed to lie in trumps. He played small on the first spade, and declarer, unwilling to overtake the 10, left the lead on the table.

When declarer called for a club, East could see he had little chance of a second club trick, since his ace was about to fall. To keep the defense a step ahead, he rose with the ace, then took the diamond king, followed by another diamond. His plan was to promote a trump trick for his side when his partner had as little as the spade eight.

Declarer ruffed the third diamond high and led the spade jack, but when East took the ace and played another diamond, the jig was up. The defense had to take another trick for one down, in a maneuver that represented a double trump promotion.

Note that if declarer had guessed to play the diamond queen on the first trick, the only way to set the game would have been to win with the king … and return a diamond.

There is no guarantee that it is safe to come back into this auction (your partner could have close to a Yarborough, after all), and I suspect I would pass if my right-hand opponent weren’t already a passed hand. But as it is, I think it is right to double, hoping partner will have a long suit of his own, have three cards in support of diamonds, or be able to bid two no-trump as a scramble to let you bid your second suit.


♠ 10
 A Q 4
 A Q 10 9 3
♣ K 8 7 4
South West North East
  Pass Pass 1 ♣
1 1 ♠ Pass 2 ♠

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 RaoAugust 29th, 2019 at 10:47 am

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
This is wrt the Quote. Perhaps De Bono , known for his concept of ” Lateral thinking ” was defining the traits of an effective Manager

jim2August 29th, 2019 at 12:45 pm

Once again, 3N is perhaps an even more interesting contract!

Say East avoids the diamond lead (the 3N call suggests this) and leads a heart.

Declarer will win in the North hand and likely advance the 10S. Then, having no real options at this contract other that an even spade split (after the 1D opening), declarer would overtake and continue spades from the top.

East, when in, can only continue hearts. Again, declarer would win in the North hand and start leading small clubs (West will have shown up with the KH by now).

Declarer emerges with 5 spades, 2 hearts, 1 diamond, and 1 club.

bobbywolffAugust 29th, 2019 at 1:55 pm


Yes, and although I am not familiar with the author of today’s quote, you are, and furthermore
have likely nailed his two most effective talents, one of an effective Manager, and as today perhaps, like Jim2 is suggesting, South passing 3NT.

Incidentally, I speak for our group, we have missed your always wise counsel and hope you in the near future, will be heard from more often.

bobbywolffAugust 29th, 2019 at 2:13 pm

Hi Jim2,

Another right on analysis by you.

We can all see South’s motivation to return to 4 spades, since his relatively unlikely hope of guaranteeing those spade tricks in NT, will instead may with spades trump, and with a “little bit of luck” take enough tricks to chalk up the game bonus.

With your post we can all see the result and although in either contract nine tricks are the limit, but the unique bridge scoring system has made it one trick less for game when playing NT and those “nasty” trump promotions” no doubt, have punished the conservative thinking of the South who returned to spades as trump.

However, although playing bridge and office managing are often quite different, because of you, AVRR and Edward de Bono, we have found a commonality for being successful..”do whatever it takes to get the job done”!

A.V.Ramana RaoAugust 29th, 2019 at 3:07 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Thanks. de Bono’s Lateral thinking makes for an interesting reading and solving Lateral thinking puzzles
, like solving an intricate bridge puzzle provides for an excellent pastime whether one likes them or not but can certainly keep Alzheimers at Bay

bobbywolffAugust 29th, 2019 at 3:20 pm


Your excellent and bridge promotional advice is right on target, except for one exception.

By succeeding, you will make it more difficult for the average bridge professional to win. How is that for Lateral thinking?

How about the more likely chosen advertising, ”
“Since when one’s mind starts to bend, all troubles end, when Alzeimers begin”.

A.V.Ramana RaoAugust 29th, 2019 at 3:31 pm

Life is the biggest Paradox

A.V.Ramana RaoAugust 29th, 2019 at 3:35 pm

As with Alzheimers, when one is in a state of total Oblivion , it could be blissful or perhaps could be one’s undoing

Joe1August 30th, 2019 at 1:09 am

Interestingly today’s comments mentioning Alzheimer’s got me thinking more about yesterday’s comment on PEDs. Some readers may know that earlier this year a well known international bridge expert was suspended for “PEDs”, it turns out testosterone and fertility drugs—possibly helpful for sprinters, thus banned by WADA—but not for “brain sports” like bridge. But online commentary in response to this brought up other enhancers, such as alzheimer’s drugs, Provigil, and good old caffeine. Red Bull between rubbers anyone? I know many college students who swear by these products. And after more reading about yesterday’s topic, “microdosing” LSD is apparently a thing, claimed by some to enhance, including the Silicon Valley crowd. We may here more about this over time. The Hideous Hog, on the other hand, favored cocktails and tobacco (which is banned at most clubs, at least the inhaled varieties)

Iain ClimieAugust 30th, 2019 at 9:08 am

Hi Joe1,

I wonder what would happen in many clubs if someone tried chewing tobacco or even taking snuff; unusual by today’s standards but common many years ago.



Bobby WolffAugust 30th, 2019 at 6:19 pm

Hi Iain,

Don’t have a learned answer to your provocative question, but surely Victor Mollo could and would have brought those two controversial habits to
a deserved ending, but not without much pent up anger, not to mention backlash, by the perpetrators.