Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, December 16th, 2019

I am always at a loss to know how much to believe of my own stories.

Washington Irving

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


Both tables in a local teams game reached four spades on the opening lead of the heart jack. Both Souths saw that if trumps were 2-2, 10 tricks would be easy; if they were 4-0, impossible. Each declarer won the lead in dummy and, to protect against a 3-1 break, crossed to hand with the trump ace to lead a low diamond toward the queen.

Both Wests rose with the diamond king and then played the trump queen. One declarer won his king and led a low diamond to dummy’s queen. He continued with the club ace and another club. East won with the jack and exited with a low heart, West’s 10 forcing dummy’s king. When declarer tried to return to hand with a club ruff, West over-ruffed and cashed a heart for the setting trick.

At the other table, when East discarded on the trump queen, declarer saw the danger of taking the king. It would leave him with no fast entry back to hand after unblocking the diamond queen. So he let the spade queen hold. If West continued with the spade jack, declarer could win, cash the diamond queen and eventually return to hand with a club ruff to discard a heart on the diamond ace.

When West instead shifted back to the heart 10, declarer won his king, cashed the diamond queen and came to hand with a trump. Now he could discard a heart on the diamond ace and ruff a heart. Declarer had 10 tricks — four trumps, two hearts, a heart ruff, two diamonds and the club ace.

A diamond lead looks dangerous. Partner won’t have much to offer, and to set the game you may need him to have values in the suits where neither opponent is likely to be short. Your odds of taking minor-suit tricks are better if you do not lead either of them. Since the heart queen is hardly safe, a low trump may be your best shot. The opponents must have at least a nine-card fit, after all.


♠ J 9
 Q 2
 K 10 9 5 3 2
♣ A Q 4
South West North East
      1 ♠
2 3 ♠ 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


Iain ClimieDecember 30th, 2019 at 8:24 pm

HI Bobby,

I recall Clyde Love in Bridge Squeezes Complete saying the difference between an expert and a dub in 3?N is that the expert loses 4 tricks early and the dub loses 5 tricks late. A similar lesson applied today although the 2-5 club break was a little unlucky to be fair. Congrats to the declared who avoided the need to ride his luck.



bobbywolffbDecember 31st, 2019 at 1:36 am

Hi Iain,

Riding one’s luck is just fine, provided he couldn’t create his own happy ending without providing for that fickle Dame Fortune.

I like the old saying, “Luck is where you find it” and even that, is conditioned with making every effort to so do.

It’s that definition of every effort which doesn’t shape up with all players, since at least some knowledge of what’s involved, is necessary.