Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 6th, 2019

A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

Mitch Hedberg

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


After West’s weak jump overcall, North’s cue-bid of three spades promised a game-going hand with at least three hearts. Despite South’s discouraging signoff in game, North continued rather optimistically to what proved to be the delicate slam.

West led the spade king to dummy’s ace, and declarer paused to form a plan. Declarer saw that even if trumps were 3-2, he would only have 11 top tricks. He rejected the idea of ruffing a spade low in dummy as hopeless, and saw that a squeeze on West between spades and a minor suit was impractical because of his need to find trumps breaking.

With known spade length to his left, declarer realized that pressure on East was possible but the key would come from scoring all his small trumps in hand. So he continued by cashing the two top hearts in his hand, followed by the club aceking. After ruffing a club, declarer returned to dummy with the diamond queen to ruff the fourth round of clubs. Declarer next cashed the diamond aceking, then led the fourth diamond from table. When East followed suit, declarer ruffed with his last trump.

At this point, declarer had taken one spade, two trumps, three ruffs and the five minor-suit winners, with the master trump still in dummy.

This line needed West to have either one or two trumps and East to have at least four cards in each minor. If that was not so, East could ruff a minor-suit card and leave declarer with a spade loser.

I would take the slow route with a two-heart cue-bid. A jump to the no-trump game would be premature; we could easily belong in spades or even a minor suit. This cue-bid does not guarantee spade support, and I plan to suggest no-trump later, to show a flexible hand with doubts as to the best strain. You would not bid this way with only a singleton spade, so partner can always convert to four spades.


♠ A 6
 Q 7 4
 A K Q 4
♣ K 7 3 2
South West North East
  1 1 ♠ 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


Michael BeyroutiSeptember 20th, 2019 at 10:33 am

I confess I couldn’t see the link with the severed foot.

jim2September 20th, 2019 at 11:51 am

Michael Beyrouti –

Was that a pun? (a severed foot has no link)

Perhaps the reference is an allusion to the QH being the last trump.

Iain ClimieSeptember 20th, 2019 at 12:15 pm

Hi Bobby,

An ingenious hand – a dummy reversal but cashing the HAK first somehow feels totally wrong. Always amusing when such plays come off though and the defences boss trump and spade winner collide at T13 proving that 2 into 1 can actually go.



jim2September 20th, 2019 at 12:28 pm

It is necessary to prevent West from over-ruffing.

Declarer cannot be sure hearts are not 2-3 until both A & K are played.

bobbywolffSeptember 20th, 2019 at 1:41 pm

Hi Michael, Jim2, & Iain,

First, that gruesome quote was an attempt to show that even sometimes in the darkest of moments, success in both bridge and life can be achieved. Close slam (especially considering West’s 2 spade preempt) to start with, seemed ominous, but attention to business (future) can still become tolerable.

Also, and more to the bridge point, positional values in trump contracts are often under estimated, especially allowing themselves crucial necessary elopement success.

If there was one ultra responsible task, it had to be declarer first planning and then executing his specific timing with back and forth entries.

Result of this fable, allowing an often looking horrible event, a relatively positive ending.

Iain ClimieSeptember 20th, 2019 at 5:57 pm

HI Bobby,

Thanks for that although my sense of humour is even worse than today’s quote. I had to give one old guy CPR at a club after he collapsed while being instructed over the mobile phone. We both were going purple for different reasons but under my breath I wondered what His partner had bid. I should probably apologise for being like that but macabre humour can help at such times. I do think clubs should get defibrillators if they can then. I know one guy at Clifton in Lancashire who is alive as a result.



bobbywolffSeptember 20th, 2019 at 6:46 pm

Hi Iain,

My inner feeling is to feel sorry for anyone who is left up to me, to save his or her life.

While dealing with a defibrillator is not my specialty, it would likely become the right percentage play for our dear victim to be blessed with you or someone with your knowledge, compassion, and concern, to accomplish this procedure, with, and of course,
its availability on hand.

What eventually happens at that exact moment then shifts back to the same deity present when each one of us was born. Hopefully the feeling within us will certainly be in favor of a celebration of life, rather than the nameless other.

Thanks for your heroics, whatever was the result.