Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, October 28th, 2019

I may as well say at once that I do not distinguish between inference and deduction. What is called induction appears to me to be either disguised deduction or a mere method of making plausible guesses.

Bertrand Russell

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


In today’s deal, North-South found their way to the no-trump game. At his second turn, South sensibly elected to emphasize his spades because of his suitoriented honor structure and his small doubleton in clubs, but still ended up in no-trump when North tried for the nine-trick game rather than raising his partner — a good idea today. But declarer still needed to decide which suit to go after and how to avoid blockages to bring his game home.

West’s lead of the heart queen removed dummy’s only outside entry to the diamonds. With seven sure tricks, a 3-3 spade break would suffice; however, diamonds seemed to offer a sounder chance.

A close examination of the diamond pips showed that even some 4-1 breaks might not present an insuperable problem. South focused on West holding the four-card suit with East a singleton honor.

Accordingly, at trick two South cashed dummy’s diamond ace and, when the queen dropped from East, he was careful to play the nine to this trick to keep the suit fluid. Next came a low diamond to South’s eight. If West took this trick, declarer would later finesse dummy’s seven. So West played low to cut declarer off from dummy.

Nicely defended, but it was not quite good enough. South switched horses and played low spades from both hands to make sure he could untangle his winners. With four spade tricks to come when that suit behaved, he was home.

East has promised at least five cards in each major, so partner must have short spades. Rather than try a speculative minorsuit lead, you should pave the way for the spade ruff that you hope to give when you gain the lead with the heart king. The spade two is the best lead, making it look like you have the singleton. If the heart ace is on your left, declarer might reject the finesse and suffer an embarrassing ruff.


♠ 8 6 5 3 2
 K 8
 8 7 4
♣ 10 6 2
South West North East
Pass 1 NT Pass 2
Pass 2 ♠ Pass 3
Pass 4 ♣ Pass 6
All 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


Joe1November 12th, 2019 at 2:35 am

Mr Russell of the quote was brilliant but history proved him wrong with his Principia (along with other misdirection, but he was of course a man of his time). Modern science would say that there is a difference between induction and deduction. In bridge a talented player can deduce what line, even if improbable, will always work, otherwise induce based on known cards, bidding, and psychology what will probably work. Could call this a plausible guess, I suppose.
He apparently said that “the trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent full of doubt.” Doubt and certainty are both important, as he implies, both in life, and in bridge. As our host frequently suggests, bridge would help educate the younger generation on these issues if more schools offered the game.

Bobby WolffNovember 12th, 2019 at 5:13 am

Hi Joe1,

It is indeed educational and unusually fascinating to have among us, someone who is intellectually suited to compare mind development with the learning and, of course, at the very least, to play against other bridge lovers who have built in talent.

Rare though it may be (after all bridge is just a game) our competition extends itself to many different levels of allowing our brains to expand simple logic together with numeracy resulting in the combined effort of trying to win against peers by simply thinking a bit clearer than they.

And to think that on any one hand, first during the bidding, which often requires partnership code language to the opening lead, which begins the play, right through the 13 tricks to a conclusion.

Where else is such a regimen constantly challenging in such a large percentage of time where all elements of competition are represented (estimation, experience, numerical talent, psychology and above all consistency) within the well thought out rules, eventually determining a winner, at least for that episode?

Yes, bridge in schools, starting early, allowing many different intellects to start strong, or at the very least, grow into that method of thinking.

Soon Mr. Russel would be able to answer his own questions about induction, deduction and also merely inference, not to mention the plausible guesses many of us indulge in, when playing.

Since I am cocksure of the above, I sadly understand my own group.