Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 25th, 2019

Enjoyment of the work consists in participation in the creative state of the artist.

Martin Heidegger

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


The 2018 Hawaii Fall North American Bridge Championships were attended by many top players. Its main attraction is the Reisinger board-a-match, with Josef Blass’ team winning out in a close-fought contest.

This deal from the second final of the Blue Ribbon will appeal to those of you who like eccentric endings. East-West defeated three hearts on a spade ruff. Ah, but who got it? If you are a devotee of Sam Loyd puzzles, you might suspect that the answer is always the least likely suspect.

Against three hearts, Steve Robinson led the club queen, and Peter Boyd as East overtook to continue the suit. South ruffed and played out the diamond queen, Boyd winning to return the suit. When declarer played the spade ace and another spade, Robinson pitching his remaining diamond, Boyd won his spade queen before returning a diamond.

When South discarded, West could score his heart four and return a top club, Boyd having to pitch a diamond to keep the spades from being ruffed out. Declarer ruffed and led a spade, ruffed and over-ruffed.

At this point, declarer had a lock for his contract. Because West could be counted out at 1=3=3=6 distribution, trumps had to be breaking. He could have crossed to the heart jack, ruffed a spade high, drawn trumps and claimed.

Instead, declarer led a club and ruffed, Boyd discarding his last spade. Declarer could cash the heart ace, but at trick 12 he had to lead spades, and it was East who over-ruffed dummy’s heart six for the setting trick.

Lead the spade nine. Your goal is to get partner in to give you a diamond ruff, and the way to tip him off is to lead an unnatural card. In standard methods, the nine is typically led from shortness. As you have preempted in spades, partner should have little trouble reading this as a suit-preference signal for diamonds. If you had a void club, you would lead the spade two.


♠ K J 10 9 7 5 2
 Q 8
♣ Q J 5 3
South West North East
3 ♠ Dbl. Pass 4
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


AviDecember 9th, 2019 at 9:52 am

Hi Bobby

I have an off topic question.
We were at an unfavorable vul.
After 2 passes, RHO opens 2D multy, which can be weak major, balanced 20-22, or acol strong any suit (8 playing tricks)
I held T75, AKQJT5, 74, 32.

What is the recommended action?
Should I bid the suit immediately, or pass and await developments?

Supposing I pass, I obviously won’t act over a strong bid.
But what should I do if RHO will bid 2S? Pass again or balance immediately?


David WarheitDecember 9th, 2019 at 9:57 am

After winning the second D, S should lead H9 to the K, cash DK, & now cash SA and lead another S. I don’t see any way for S to screw up now nor for EW to do anything to defeat the contract.

Bobby WolffDecember 9th, 2019 at 11:37 am

Hi Avi,

Instead of American President Teddy Roosevelt’s famous comment over a century ago, “Speak softly but carry a big stick”, how about for bridge judgment, “Bid quickly and get it off your chest”?

When holding a major suit of AKQJ10x it needs to be bid and feel lucky that you can do it at the two level (because of the vulnerability), since your RHO’s “Multi”, a 2 diamond opening, instead of a natural 2 weak spades, is by far, the most likely hand he figures to hold.

Much of winning bridge is choosing the right time to bid, so do not miss a safer time to come into the bidding, when given a chance.
Low level penalty doubles are almost always made with a good trump holding behind declarer, a fact which is almost non-existent with this one.

Good luck, and I hope I am giving you the right advice. At least, it is certainly the bid I would immediately make.

Sure, it is possible to then be doubled, but extremely unlikely, since your trump suit is so potent.

Bobby WolffDecember 9th, 2019 at 11:55 am

Hi David,

Yes you, like always, are not only correctly directing the declarer play by not allowing the defense (at least on this hand) to be in a position to punish him by allowing a crucial discard by West (his 3rd diamond).

This type of defense is not always available, but when it is possible, a careful declarer should use special effort to keep it from happening.

The overall process can be listed as “proper declarer technique”, a talent often gleaned the hard way, by experiencing the result from not practicing it.

aviDecember 9th, 2019 at 12:51 pm

thanks for the quick reply

Iain ClimieDecember 9th, 2019 at 10:00 pm

HI Bobby, Avi,

With modern bjdding trends the opener might have H987xxx(x) although I accept this is odds against. Discipline often comes a bad second to making a noise but, especially at club level, how many of us can resist?



bobbywolffDecember 9th, 2019 at 11:43 pm

Hi Iain & Avi,

No doubt true and although the odds against that heart distribution are mathematically off the charts, likely if Jim2 was faced with Avi’s problem those enormous odds, because of TOCM, may drop to even money or less.

Don’t even rule out RHO even having eight of them, since TOCM is indeed a powerful force.