Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, November 9th, 2019

Ah Love! Could you and I with Him conspire To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire, Would not we shatter it to bits — and then Remold it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!

Edward Fitzgerald

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


Omar Sharif played in the 1998 Macallan tournament with Paul Chemla, and in the spirit of true repentance, he revealed a painful mistake he had made in a column. I am passing it on so that you can learn from it. Save your trump on defense to ruff winners, they say; well, up to a point.

Against four spades, Paul Chemla led the club jack. Declarer Tony Forrester won with the ace and crossed to dummy in spades to lead the singleton diamond. What he intended to do if Sharif (East) had ducked smoothly, we will never know. In practice, Sharif must have given the show away, for when he ducked, Forrester put up the king. Next, he played the heart eight, ducking Chemla’s 10.

At this point, Sharif could see a cross-ruff looming. He carefully overtook the heart 10 with the queen to lead a trump, won in dummy. Forrester correctly led a club, and, following the general rule of not ruffing partner’s trick away, Sharif discarded. However, Forrester won his club king, ruffed a diamond, then played the heart ace and ruffed a heart. Another diamond ruff left him with the trump ace for his 10th trick.

If Sharif had trumped the second club and played his last spade, Forrester would have had only nine tricks. He would have had no extra club winners, and the defense would have simply eliminated a trump from both hands, saving a trick.

In the end, I suppose all we can say is that there is an exception to every rule in Bridge — except this one.

You should double. As a non-passed hand, you would pass or overcall one heart without the values for a take-out double (also being worried about losing a 5-3 heart fit). As a passed hand, though, you should double, to get both major suits into play. The fact that your partner is a passed hand does not mean it cannot be your hand in a majorsuit part-score. This may also push the opponents too high.


♠ K Q 10 6
 A 6 5 4 2
♣ 5 4 2
South West North East
Pass Pass 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


Steve ConradNovember 23rd, 2019 at 10:15 am

The funny thing is that you say

“there is an exception to every rule in Bridge β€” except this one.”

When I teach, I say

“there is an exception to every rule in Bridge β€” including this one.”

and I think we are both correct πŸ™‚

A V Ramana RaoNovember 23rd, 2019 at 2:03 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Occasionally certain hands are encountered where no general rules apply both in play and defense and this hand certainly is one of them. First , South wasted a precious tempo in leading spade at trick two. Instead, had he played a heart to A ! and detached dummy’s diamond, If East ducks ( with or without hesitation does not matter) it would be the end of defense. East should hop up with A to defeat the contract. Play of this hand is intriguing indeed

bobbywolffNovember 23rd, 2019 at 4:32 pm

Hi Steve,

Love your comment and take it personally, keeping in mind my sentence perfection so that they will consistently always realize how some thinkal peep I am.

And, the use of words about the won about simple generalization inclusion being

bobbywolffNovember 23rd, 2019 at 4:42 pm


And also to painfully think how too often, after a career in bridge, for minds to always seem to drift to heinous defensive errors (at least seemingly) which allow opponent’s contracts to mistakenly make, especially when that result became crucial.

However, in truth “The Game’s The Thing”!

Bob LiptonNovember 23rd, 2019 at 9:46 pm

As a friend of mine always said when partner let a contract slip through, β€œIt’s only one trick.”