Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, December 14th, 2019

As you make your way along life’s tumultuous highways, it’s important to note that you should always carry a map, have plenty of fuel in the tank, and take frequent rest stops.

Octavia Spencer

W North
Neither ♠ J 9 7
 K Q 4
♣ A K J 9 6 4
West East
♠ K 4
 A Q 10
 10 8 7 5
♣ Q 5 3 2
♠ 8 2
 J 9 8 7 5 2
 J 9 6 3 2
♣ —
♠ A Q 10 6 5 3
 K 6 4
♣ 10 8 7
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♣ 2
2 ♠ 3 4 Pass
4 NT Pass 5 Pass
5 ♠ Pass Pass Dbl.
All pass      


Suit preference can come on opening lead, but not often. Take the following problem, and assume you hold the East hand.

Consider the auction and ask yourself whether you should pass at your final turn. I agree that this is the normal action, but since you expect you can take a club ruff, put partner in with an ace, then take a second ruff, you might choose to gamble and make a Lightner double.

On the lead of the club five, you ruff away dummy’s ace as declarer produces the seven. Now you must ask: Did partner start with the 5-3-2 in clubs, or is the five his smallest in that suit? If you guess incorrectly which red ace partner holds and partner has no trump trick, declarer may get to discard his red-suit loser on the clubs after drawing trumps.

When Bob Hamman was on lead as West here, he saw that the opening lead of the club queen would be a far clearer suit-preference signal than a wishy-washy five. While leading an unsupported queen might seem dangerous, once you have decided to lead a club, you are never going to score a later trick in the suit no matter which one you choose, so you might as well help partner as much as you can.

After East’s heart return, you will succeed in putting partner in to secure a second ruff and collect 300. But playing back a diamond would allow declarer to win his ace. He might then guess to cash the spade ace and throw his hearts on dummy’s minor-suit winners — and actually make his contract!

Bid one heart. The wild shape and playing potential that goes with it compel us to respond on this hand. If nothing else, this will make it harder for the opponents to find their best spot. If you play weak jump responses, I can understand bidding two hearts, but that is not my preferred style.


♠ 8 2
 J 9 8 7 5 2
 J 9 6 3 2
♣ —
South West North East
    1 ♣ 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


bobbywolffDecember 28th, 2019 at 1:20 pm

Hi everyone,

While admiring the opening lead in this “real hand” I have also come up with a valid excuse for having so many Tuesday hands in a row, no matter the day of the week.

Very simply, when one of us was asked by another after a question was raised about a specific hand, not yet having appeared, the one to answer then did not have to inconveniently look it up and instead just merely had to say, “the Tuesday hand”.

It both, at least I thought, saved time and generally worked well, until one of our brightest, (not in any way breaking records, but similar in American tournament bridge to having five masterpoints rather than only one), suddenly was heard to mutter, “And they shot a man like Lincoln”.

Steve ConradDecember 28th, 2019 at 1:55 pm

I knew a woman who once called me “a Tuesday.” I found out that meant that she thought I was a good guy. And it wasn’t even Belgium. Oh wait, that’s a different movie 🙂

bobbywolffDecember 28th, 2019 at 2:31 pm

Hi Steve,

It depends whether you are an optimist or a pessimist. If you are optimistic (and I think you are) you will assume Monday is the day she looks over her opportunities and then decides to try out Tuesday with her favorite (in Belgium or wherever).

However, it could mean 2nd in line, in your case not so bad, beating out all but one, but in mine, only not Monday and when I asked my then standing, will be told, ” behind everyone else”.

Somehow in my youth (almost as close to the 19th century than our present one to the 20th), I remember a song about “Wanting a Sunday kind of love, one which will last past Saturday night”.

Good luck with all your finesses, whatever the game.

Bruce KarlsonDecember 28th, 2019 at 3:54 pm

The Students,,, 1958? Great song before Rock and Roll lost its glow and when the kids still ruled…

Bruce karlsonDecember 28th, 2019 at 3:56 pm

Sorry.. not The Students. The Harptones, a few years earlier..

Steve ConradDecember 29th, 2019 at 11:19 am

“A Sunday Kind of Love” is from an earlier time. The Harptones recorded it in 1958, but Dinah Washington recorded it in 1955. Going further back, Jo Stafford recorded the song in 1947, as did Claude Thornhill. So, this was not only before Rock and Roll lost its glow, but before Rock and Roll, period. Great song!

bobbywolffDecember 30th, 2019 at 7:16 pm

Remembering “Rock Around the Clock”, or something close, made famous by “Bill Haley and the Comets”, which started “one o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock, rock” where everyone doing it, got valuable exercise, not to mention, super rhythm, but always attention.

While comparing the art of romance in those long ago years, I have always thought that only two people dancing, a heck of a lot sexier than all the hanky panky nowadays visibly shown, in all its nudity.

Therefore, methinks the younger generations have missed out on a valuable lesson on what constitutes the pursuit of love and in how many ways it can be expressed.

However, while all of what I am talking about back then, was basically wasted on me, I am not one to proclaim, just how much more romantic it was.