Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

Skill is a function of chance. It’s an intuitive best use of chance situations.

Philip K. Dick

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



When South felt obligated to break his partner’s transfer by jumping to three hearts, North used the excuse of being vulnerable at teams to press on to game.

When West led the diamond queen, South saw that the mirror distribution meant he would need not only to find both major-suit kings onside, but also some sort of endplay for his 10th trick.

Placing all the top diamonds with West after the lead and East’s discouraging signal, declarer decided he would need to eliminate West’s black suits, then throw that player in with the diamond nine. But this would also require cutting the defenders’ communications in clubs.

If the club honors were split, declarer would need to convince East rather than West to take his club entry first. Deciding that leading the club jack from dummy might persuade East to duck his ace, for fear of solving a guess for South, declarer innocently played a low club out of hand at trick two. When West played low, East had to take his ace and could do no better than return a diamond.

Declarer won this, then led a spade to the queen, followed by a trump to the king and ace. South cashed the trump queen, then played a spade to the ace to extract West’s last safe exit card.

Finally, when declarer led a club to his queen and West’s king, that player could cash his diamond winner. However, he then had to lead a minor and let declarer discard a spade loser from one hand or the other.

You could have an eight-card heart fit, but even then, one no-trump might play reasonably. With such poor hearts, you should pass and hope partner can conjure seven tricks. You would not want to play in two hearts opposite a small doubleton.


♠ A Q 2
 10 9 7 5 2
 8 7 2
♣ J 5
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 Pass 1 NT 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


Bruce karlsonOctober 2nd, 2019 at 3:47 pm

Is it conceivable that any world class player could “see” the tactic being employed at trick 2 and fly the K? Is this a hand that a computer might find the only defense? As an aside, I started playing with a very new player. She is very enthusiastic, etc. but has trouble with 2nd hand low That might make for an extra post game cocktail for the victim…

bobbywolffOctober 2nd, 2019 at 5:02 pm

Hi Bruce,

First, it is always good to hear from you since your queries are usually both on point and, more importantly, bridge educational for others.

Yes, it is conceivable for West to fly king of clubs, but what if declarer had an extra third club, thus enabling a crucial club trick to be easily developed for a spade discard later from dummy. However, it is still possible for West to rise to the occasion, but in practice, when not playing with transparent cards around the table, at best, unlikely to be right to rise.

However, today’s quote appears to be a good fit with bridge with its meaning. However, it, of course, is primarily concerned with declarer playing the hand to best advantage by leading a low club out of hand, (not always done when nothing positive will occur in clubs, but only as part of a long range plan to set up the right ending), but still plenty of good fortune needed, to at least have a fighting chance to land this difficult contract, by showing the necessary skill (plus the psychological edge by first leading a low club from hand, rather than from dummy).

Yes, your new partner, who, no doubt when having a chance to win a trick, regardless of where she is sitting, rises with the club king she will be well on her way to brilliantly defeat declarer’s plan, albeit probably by accident, rather than by sensational design.

No doubt the overall nature of our great game will keep its players on their toes (although some times on their partner’s instead), which is still a learning process if that partnership let’s it be. It is not so much the result (good or bad) on that specific hand, but rather, after a careful and thorough later analysis (where you take charge) with your excellent, but objective intentions, to both sometimes congratulate, but other times to suggest different ways to right that wrong.

No educational bridge plan is not without some problems, but by always trying to be objective rather than either subjective or trying to cover up mistakes, is the usual successful formula for heading toward better play and defense.

In any event good luck and hopefully, in the future, hearing from you more often.

Bob LiptonOctober 2nd, 2019 at 6:16 pm

Whenever I defeat a contract by a brilliant accident (which accidents seem to make up the majority of my brilliance’s), I try to look modest. Fortunately, given that like most bridge players, my attempts at modesty and unconvincing, it doesn’t happen that often.


bobbywolffOctober 2nd, 2019 at 6:28 pm

Hi Bob,

If a person is said to “have a lot to be modest about” is that ridicule or congratulations?

Like politics, it becomes wise to leave the listener confused.

Bruce KarlsonOctober 3rd, 2019 at 2:08 am

Churchill remarked about Atlee that t=he was a modest man with much about which to be modest (WSC would never end a sentence with a proposition.) it was definitely meant to be biting criticism.

bobbywolffOctober 3rd, 2019 at 3:14 am

Hi Bruce,

Yes I am old enough to remember Clement Atlee and his role as PM of G.B.

Since Winston was voted the single most important and vital person in the whole worldwide 20th century, he, and especially his quick and acetic wit is never to be forgotten.

Furthermore, if it wasn’t for Hitler’s decision to turn his attention to the Eastern front and Russia, and not to invade and conquer England (but to delay what they thought was an inevitable certain event), we, on this side of the Atlantic, could well now be speaking German and for the last many years.

Iain ClimieOctober 3rd, 2019 at 9:09 am

Hi Bruice,

Churchill did once complain about the grammatical constraint, though. He once said something like “This is a restriction up with which I will not put!”



bobbywolffOctober 3rd, 2019 at 3:31 pm

Hi Iain,

Proving that Winston’s sense of humor, as well
as his enormous wit, vitally helped, rather than hindered his obvious world-wide popularity, except possibly (probably) his closest (or so it is exaggerated) acquaintances, such as George Bernard Shaw, with whom he traded piercing barbs.