Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

Errors are not in the art but in the artificers.

Sir Isaac Newton

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


None of the falsecards discussed this week are likely to cost, and all of them offer declarer a different, unsuccessful line of play. Here, West led the unbid suit against four hearts, setting up a spade winner for his side and compelling declarer to bring trumps in for one loser.

Some would tackle trumps by leading to the queen, intending to finesse the 10 on the way back if that loses. However, due to South’s poor intermediates, he preferred to cash the ace, then play toward the queen. In comparison to the other line, this picks up a singleton jack or king offside and the doubleton jack with West, five cases in total. The alternative line succeeds against king-jack-low and jack-nine doubleton offside, only four cases.

Had East dropped the nine under the ace, South would no doubt have led to the queen next, since he could not succeed against king-jack-fourth with West. But our East was made of sterner stuff and nonchalantly dropped the heart jack under the ace, presenting South with an attractive losing option.

Taken in by this, declarer confidently finessed the heart eight on the next round, playing for East to have started with the bare jack or king-jack doubleton. He could survive a 4-1 trump break, since dummy’s spade nine would serve to stop that suit and prevent the force.

Unfortunately for declarer, East won with the heart nine, and yet another apparently unbreakable game had vanished down the drain.

It is normally the duty of the player with shortness in their suit to enter the auction. Here, it is more dangerous to stand idly by and allow the opponents to play two spades than to enter the bidding. After all, a heart contract could easily be in the offing. However, three hearts would be too committal and would overstate the quality of the suit. Double is best; if partner bids three clubs, respect his decision.


♠ A 6
 A 10 4 3 2
 K J 9 3
♣ 5 2
South West North East
  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


Iain ClimieSeptember 24th, 2019 at 4:44 pm

Hi Bobby,

I know I’ve said this before but I’ll trot it out again. These hands, like the suit combinations a few months back, highlight just how much study at home can add to a player’s game. The suit combinations might be manageable at the table but they take time and effort; the false cards have to be thought out in advance though as hesitation blows it at the table.

Thanks for the lessons!



jim2September 24th, 2019 at 5:26 pm

Indeed. Note, though, that even tiny changes in suit pips can change matters.

In the column hand, for example, swap the two North major suit holdings, and another play line becomes possible!

Specifically, declarer could advance the Q and the, if it lost, try the 9 next.

bobbywolffSeptember 24th, 2019 at 7:53 pm

Hi Iain & Jim2,

Thanks to both of you for all you do, to never less than follow-up on both the main subject, lately compelling card combinations, and for variations which belong to the same family.

Also, since bridge often contains beau coup numeracy (one aspect, the art of making effective falsecards, but also including, the challenge of not falling for it). Is it any wonder that the Chinese and Europeans are producing more top level players than ever before since bridge courses while in public schools now are available (and extremely popular) among both their students, teachers, and perhaps even more important, the parents of those students?

I, along with you two, and suspect other readers on our site, learn the same way many do, by example, which in turn, tends to allow our imaginations to then amplify similar combinations, which conveniently apply.

Why our bridge administrators do not visit the US Educational Department and sing the praises of learning our highly instructive game, which is, at least to me, a direct line to understanding the depth of learning both numbers and their application, while at the same time the enjoyment of immense entertainment, not to mention healthy competition.

Perhaps in the next life that serious mistake will be remedied., but I won’t hold my breath.