Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 11th, 2019

Laughter is humanity’s mechanism to escape suffering.

Deepak Chopra

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

*Spades and a minor


This week’s deals are all about breaking up endplays. Defenders often have the chance to avert the embarrassment of a forced ruff-and-discard or leading into a tenace, but all too often the escape is only found in the postmortem.

Here, when South played three no-trump after a two-suited opening by East, West had been put off his natural (and fatal) heart lead. West led a third-and-fifth spade two, East’s jack holding the trick. East continued with the spade queen, West following with the five. Now East had a lot of choices, but he eventually cleared spades, leading the eight (his middle card) to advertise a diamond entry.

Declarer next ran off all his clubs. West could easily part with two hearts and a diamond, but the fourth discard was crucial. A heart would make it easy for declarer, so West shed a second low diamond.

That proved to be costly when declarer’s next play was a diamond. Had West played low, declarer would have little choice but to go up with the ace and throw West in with the diamond king for a heart lead. So West played second hand high with the diamond king. Declarer countered by ducking the king, then won the next diamond and ran the heart eight to West, forcing a lead back into the heart tenace.

Since West could tell that declarer had nine tricks if he had both the diamond queen and the heart ace, he should have discarded the diamond king on the last club to escape the endplay.

Lead the club seven. East is clearly prepared for a spade lead, so unless he is playing poker with you, you should look elsewhere. A heart could be right, but partner did not bid two hearts, making that option slightly less likely. Your best bet is to establish the clubs, which requires partner to have three of them. A slim chance may be better than none!


♠ 4
 Q 9 7 3
 7 5
♣ J 9 8 7 6 3
South West North East
    1 ♠ Pass
Pass 2 Pass 3 NT
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


David WarheitNovember 25th, 2019 at 9:20 am

Let’s see: 1. E’s opening bid promised S & a minor. As S starts running clubs that minor must be D. 2. E signaled with the S8 that she must have something in D. Obviously all this wasn’t sufficient for W. Could E have done anything else? 3. How about taking off her wedding ring and then putting it back on? Now if W still doesn’t get it, it’s three strikes and you’re out.

Iain ClimieNovember 25th, 2019 at 10:05 am

Hi David,

Cruel but accurate and fair!



A V Ramana RaoNovember 25th, 2019 at 10:46 am

Hi David
Why to put the ring back on finger ? Why not simply put it on the table sending a stern message. Either D K goes or marriage goes ( she can put it back after the contract is defeated). Anyway , West should have discarded D K on second club itself
Hope our host approves

David WarheitNovember 25th, 2019 at 1:08 pm

AVRR: Of course you are right if W was her husband, but I’ve been informed that he wasn’t.

jim2November 25th, 2019 at 1:32 pm

Well, technically, it is indeed correct that he is not her husband.

She became widowed after the last card was played.

Iain ClimieNovember 25th, 2019 at 1:44 pm

Hi JIm2, David,

I recall an anecdote from “The Bridge Player’s Bedside Companion”. A quiet couple in a tournament were somewhat perturbed by a stronger but louder couple who had a bad result and row at a table, which finished with the man disappearing for a coffee. “Your husband?” they nervously asked. “Of course” came the retort. “Do you really think I’d live in sin with a man who bids like that?”


bobbywolffNovember 25th, 2019 at 5:27 pm

Hi David. Iain, AVRR, & Jim2,

First, I picked a horrible time to oversleep, but since my basketball and football teams had performed badly (my guess, instead of goodly) on the weekend, I became fed up with endplays, not to mention backs, linemen, dribblers and shooters.

However for bridge business, way back, 1930s, when the New Yorker magazine carried a chap named Webster to draw monthly bridge cartoons captioning our great game (contract bridge), brand new then, but old time now, we have all grown to love what once depicted two couples, playing against each other. both dressed to the “nines”, in evening gowns and tuxedos playing against one another in an elegant living room with many other very well attired people kibitzing, with one of the ladies bellowing to her husband (at least it appeared) “Honey, you are the damnedest idiot”.

Webster then, in the years to come, also depicted several of those same couples kicking their partners under the table, while one of the other players turned to a defender and asked, “How did you know to switch to a diamond”?

And Iain, perhaps Webster would have had that particular lady today, instead preface her answer, simply, “Yes, since he is very adept with playing his flute”. I guess (in New York society) not so hilarious then, but likely commonplace now.

bobbywolffNovember 25th, 2019 at 5:48 pm

Hi David,

So after West had gotten his 2nd strike, by not jettisoning his king and East, his wife, might then intelligently return her wedding ring (the real third strike), and find her next love which may last to eternity (let alone a better bridge partner), proving Carol Channing’s famous song correct, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” leaving West to lament, Ray Charles’ hit: “You win again”.

bobbywolffNovember 25th, 2019 at 6:01 pm

Hi Jim2,

And don’t ever forget why the event you suggested was very true, since it was sung to the tune of “Everything’s up to date in Kansas City”.

bobbywolffNovember 25th, 2019 at 6:23 pm


Instead of sending a message about a “stern” there was other emotion since South was having an affair with West, but didn’t prefer a marriage contract so even after West not jettisoning the diamond king, he purposefully went set, proving the well known caveat, “All’s well that doesn’t end well” to which it sometimes gets sticky to even just explain.

However, I do approve of our host since, like Julie Andrews in the “Sound of Music”, and specifically because of all of you guys, I must have done “Something Good”.

jim2November 25th, 2019 at 7:21 pm

Yep, September 29, 1929.

It was years after I first read about it that I discovered the hand reconstruction was a fabrication.

Bobby WolffNovember 25th, 2019 at 7:58 pm

Might the expression “dead set” have evolved from its history or is it just someone complaining about someone never changing his or her mind?

In any event, that episode has kept many from claiming to have made or at least watched the absolute worst result possible, at least for not religious people.

ClarksburgNovember 25th, 2019 at 8:05 pm

In my very first hand in my very first Duplicate game I was on lead against a small slam.
Decided to try something different and led low from Kx in a side suit. Dummy came down with AQ there. Declarer pondered long and hard, went up with the Ace and went off one.
Partner (She) went absolutely ballistic, and they stormed off to the kitchen. They came back, so no poison in his coffee.

Iain ClimieNovember 26th, 2019 at 10:11 am

Hi Clarksburg,

A famous soccer manager over here (Bill Shankly at Liverpool) once said “Football’s not a matter of life and death; it’s far more important than that!” albeit with a strong Scots accent and tongue firmly in cheek. An awful lot of bridge players seem to feel the same although my hyper-competitiveness cost me a very nice (and well-off!) girlfriend who was unwise enough to play competitive bridge with me. My wife point blank refuses to learn to play having seen me in my younger days, before I took 25 years off the game. I can’t blame her even though I’m better behaved now.