Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 7th, 2019

Against the disease of writing one must take special precautions, since it is a dangerous and contagious disease.

Peter Abelard

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


In a high-level teams game, both tables reached four hearts on the lead of the club three. Both declarers played low from dummy, and East inserted the club 10. Each declarer won the first trick in hand and guessed well to lead a low trump. After winning the ace, both Wests continued clubs to dummy’s jack and East’s king. The defenders continued the accurate play by cashing the spade ace, then forcing dummy with a club.

At the first table, declarer ruffed low, then drew trumps with the jack, king and ace. After cashing the spade king-queen, declarer took a diamond finesse; when that held, he called for the diamond ace. When East discarded a spade, declarer had to concede the setting trick to the diamond king.

The second declarer, warned by the premature appearance of the trump ace, ruffed the third round of clubs with the heart nine and continued with the trump jack. He realized that the contract would depend on West holding the diamond king, and that entries to hand were at a premium, so when East followed with a low trump, declarer overtook dummy’s jack with his queen. Now he was in the right hand to take the diamond finesse. Once that succeeded, declarer led dummy’s trump four to his eight.

After drawing the last trump, declarer cashed his spade winners, then led a diamond to the 10 and jack. The diamond ace was his 10th trick: he had made two spades, three trumps, three diamonds, a club and a club ruff.

This is not a great 15-count I admit, but it feels like you should take a call. The choice is to bid one no-trump (ugly without a diamond stopper) or to double with only three cards in an unbid major. Your slight extra values suggest that you have just enough compensation for the lack of shape. so I would double.


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

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 RaoSeptember 21st, 2019 at 1:19 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
The declarer at the first table had two chances. To unblock 9 on A of hearts and to ruff the club with J/9 but somehow he missed both

bobbywolffSeptember 21st, 2019 at 3:44 pm


Yes Doctor AVRR, that patient was guilty of becoming careless to the necessary unblocking play in trump, not once, but twice.

Making the disease one of not appreciating entry killing unblocks, which in turn, that virus being in the air, established terminal conditions by having the king of diamonds protected twice instead of either singleton king or king x, onside.

That disease, always in the air, but sometimes not costly, due to dame fortune being kind, is only one of many technical qualities necessary
in order to enable an otherwise high ranking player, e.g. many experienced and positive qualities, but this one, of high-level numeracy, not included.

Perhaps with the experience gleaned from this hand, will be of great value, and, if so, a compelling experience, worth the embarrassment of it happening to him, while on stage.

Time alone will determine whether or not this patient will work hard enough to take advantage. Such are the many pitfalls awaiting
all who try and totally master this great game of ours to which IMO has yet to occur.

Some have become close to succeeding, but to my view, the greatest players are yet to come, as long as the ones who cherish our best ever mind game, all try and be the best they can, which will requite total dedication and above all, rid top-level bridge of cheating, while, at the same time, not having to revert to a bastardized version of presentation, which, in turn, could serve as a major distraction, rather than a straight on solution.

Whatever the result, I and many other bridge lovers will likely not be around to see it, but to eventually do so will require a fierce and total determination to overcome whatever the phony notions of lawyering, nationalism, general protection of friends and other non legitimate reasons of preventing it from continuing to happen, (once caught, forever banished).

Harry HvSeptember 24th, 2019 at 9:52 am

Doesn’t East win the fourth heart trick with his ten if the J has been thrown under the Q ?