Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 28th, 2019

When torrential water tosses boulders, it is because of its momentum. When the strike of a hawk breaks the body of its prey, it is because of timing.

Sun Tzu

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


All this week’s deals come from last year’s McConnell Cup. Here, teams gold- medalist Fiona Brown and women’s pairs winner Anne-Laure Huberschwiller both overcalled one no-trump over one spade, and each ended in three no-trump, but with different results.

After the spade-eight lead, Brown put up the jack and ducked the queen. Then came a diamond shift. Brown ducked to the jack, then ducked West’s diamond king and won the third round. She next led a club to dummy and took first the heart then the spade finesse. Finally, she knocked out the club queen, after which her hand was high.

Brown had correctly inferred that East must have the diamond length since West would have continued with a low diamond at trick three from a four-card holding, to avoid blocking the suit.

By contrast, Huberschwiller took the first spade, crossed to the club ace and cleared clubs. Now a top diamond shift from Irina Levitina as West set up the defense’s fifth winner, while East retained the spade king as an entry.

At trick one, declarer had to decide whom to play for long diamonds. Since West, the hand with short spades, was likely to have the length, that might have suggested knocking out the club entry first. But winning the first spade and playing a club to the ace gives declarer serious communication issues. All things considered, ducking the first trick looks right. Should it appear that West has the long diamonds, declarer can try to duck a club to East, now the safe hand.

This hand is not worth an invitation to game. The singleton in partner’s suit is a bad sign, as is the lack of aces and poor intermediates. I would settle for a plus score in two clubs and hope West protects. We can then teach him a sharp lesson!


♠ K Q 9 5 3
 K 6 4
 Q 6 5 4
♣ J
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 ♠ Pass 2 ♣ 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


Patrick CheuOctober 12th, 2019 at 7:49 pm

Hi Bobby,On the very first hand with a new pard,we reach 7D on this hand (pairs):south 9 AKQT7 KQ832 43-north AKT7 98 AT975 A2. South 1H-North 2D(9+),4D-4S*,4N-5D(0/3),7D. Could you please recommend a sequence whereby we may get to show KS? Possible for pard to have Axxx clubs and two hearts. Regards~Patrick.

bobbywolffOctober 13th, 2019 at 5:08 am

Hi Patrick,

With South dealer, how about:

South North
1 heart 2 diamonds
3 spades* 4 clubs
4 NT 5 spades
7 diamonds pass

or with North the dealer:
North South
1 diamond 1 heart
1 spade 2 clubs**
2 diamonds 3 diamonds
3 spades 4 hearts
4 spades 4 NT
5 spades 7 diamonds

** game force

Nothing real complicated, with the only possible
distraction being with North the dealer and opening 1NT instead of 1 diamond.

BTW, both of the above conventions, showing shortness along with agreeing the obvious suit,
and the 4th suit bid after the opener has bid two suits and the responder one, are both required weapons with all natural bidding partnerships and this hand is a good example of why.

Hope all is well with you.

Patrick CheuOctober 13th, 2019 at 9:49 am

Hi Bobby,Hope you and Judy are well. I try to play more bridge these days.Still struggling with the bidding as you can see. I may be missing something in the first auction with South as dealer: South 1H-2D,3S*-4C,4NT-5S(3 controls presumably),7D..I bid 7D hoping that the hearts would take care of any club losers that North may have..but later realized that if North had Axxx clubs and no KS and hearts not breaking 7D may not be least by bidding 7D I feel that Optimism again. Best Regards~Patrick.

bobbywolffOctober 13th, 2019 at 2:45 pm

Hi Patrick,

Yes, I understand your concern, but the following is my attempt to justify bidding a grand.

Even when a partnership is, at the least, on the cutting edge of being very good, bridge is still the master. By that I mean nothing is for sure and a good percentage of the time, likely over 50% some chances need to be at least explored and then, if that decision seems reasonable, accepted.

Sometimes, from South’s point of view, he will be lucky enough to either catch a favorable heart break, find the magical jack of hearts in his hand, or, in this case, the king of spades or short enough clubs with partner to score it up.

In many ways, call it player’s luck, if one is patient, he will often be fortunate enough to have something good happen (sometimes an errant lead by those unfortunate blind opening leaders who have to guess what to do).

At the top level, virtually all the players (even ones slightly below the top) are well aware of excellent technique and familiar with all various nuances of high-level declarer play, but the ones to be feared or the few who combine that necessary talent with the ability to allow player’s luck to see them through.

That challenge almost always needs plenty of experience to develop and we all then know that surrounding oneself with playing against the best players to be found and in the highest level events to enter is usually the beginning of searching out a successful future in our magnificent game.

Not all have enough time to devote to accomplishing the above, and no one can force that to happen, but I can testify that if one does, he will have many good days, but enough frustrating ones to sometimes wonder whether it was worth it or not.

To each his own!

Patrick CheuOctober 13th, 2019 at 3:11 pm

Hi Bobby,Thanks again for your thoughts on the hand in question and above all your words of encouragement(through the years) which have been invaluable,not just at bridge. All the Best~Patrick.