Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, November 29th, 2019

I have lived some thirty years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors.

Henry David Thoreau

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

*Four spades, forcing


Gail Greenberg is one of the grandes dames of North American Bridge. She was one of the winners of the second- and third-ever Venice Cups in the mid-1970s and still plays bridge at the absolute top level more than 40 years later.

If she looked very happy during the National American Bridge Championships in Hawaii last year, it might have been because she was surrounded by family who came to Hawaii to mark a special birthday. She has three generations of multiple national and world champions in the family. Don’t bet against the next generation, either!

Greenberg always seems happy at the table, but her opponents do not always leave in such a good mood. Witness today’s deal, from the second qualifier in the Life Master Pairs.

Greenberg sat South and reached the no-trump game after opening one no-trump. Jeff Hand followed with a puppet Stayman sequence to shows his spades without revealing much about declarer’s hand.

On any lead but a club, the contract looks comfortable because diamonds can be established. After the club-two lead, though, declarer risks losing the spade ace and four tricks in the minors. How would you plan the play?

Greenberg saw she had a slim but legitimate chance. She won the club ace and led a spade to the jack and ace. Then she took the club return, unblocked the spade king, crossed to a top heart and led a low spade. When the queen appeared, the spade 10 was her ninth trick, for a 90% result.

You should pass now. You have no fit for partner, no source of tricks and no intermediates, all of which are warning signs. Picture partner holding a minimum opener with long but broken diamonds. Would you want to invite game opposite that and jeopardize your plus score?


♠ 10 5 4 2
 A Q 3
 10 4
♣ A 7 6 5
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