Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, May 16th, 2022


A V Ramana RaoMay 30th, 2022 at 11:20 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Perhaps there is yet another way of handling diamonds which would succeed today. Just pass ten of diamonds. If west has both KQ, whether he covers or not,south has a claim. But today east wins but since west’s diamond Q falls with only one ruff after cashing A, south has twelve tricks. This line would lose only if west held Hxxx or longer. But the line adopted by Hoffman is much superior as the distribution of diamond honors is irrelevant. Only fly in the ointment would be west ducking with K Q of diamonds but then he would be surely from Mars or some other advanced civilization who can read minds. Also though there is a possibility of spades being three three, declarer cannot afford to test the suit as he lacks entries for bringing diamonds. But today South’s stars are strong. Once bid, the slam rolls home

Iain ClimieMay 30th, 2022 at 3:09 pm

Hi Bobby,

Change any of the other 10s to a small card, and there is no difference to the hand, at least provided the hearts aren’t 5-2. The D10 is crucial though – without it, South has to hope West has Q10(x), K10(x) or similar although even then West might muddy the waters by playing the honour on the first round – but then that reverts to something like the column line with ruffing finesses. Shade of Robert Darvas perhaps?



bobbywolffMay 30th, 2022 at 3:13 pm


Thanks for your usual accurate and even more important, complete and thorough analysis, which tends to answer questions even before they are asked.

When the column described 6NT as a “horrible” contract the description was an overbid, especially if playing matchpoints (to which they were), since the spades were 3-3, with additional chances also alive on various squeeze positions, not to mention “magic” in the black suits with the QJ combinations and of course with the KQ of diamonds being with West.

However it does go without saying that all of those possibilities are not always available, since the declarer (except against a highly favorable and telltale opening lead) will have to make an early choice of which route to go.

Again, it is not always folly to allow a winning declarer to confess why he did what he did, since, while apparently being “lucky” should include the right to explain why, since perhaps the listeners may be able to better understand something they originally overlooked.

bobbywolffMay 30th, 2022 at 3:19 pm

Hi Iain,

Although you weren’t heard from until a few minutes ago, you also, as always, speak the truth (at least the way you usually see it) especially as your descriptions seem to correctly delve (“Right Through The Pack”).

bobbywolffMay 30th, 2022 at 4:00 pm

Hi again Iain,

The hearts do not figure to be 5-2, but perhaps 6-0. Please forgive the sarcasm, usually thrown directly at me for something I have done.

Darvas would probably have made the lucky or not so ten the fortunate hero, after the declarer (or the writer) had allowed him either to be the setting trick, or more likely being squashed underneath the jack.

Iain ClimieMay 30th, 2022 at 5:59 pm

Hi Bobby,

My diamond curse (thinking the suit was 5-4-3-2 or similar) has just shifted to hearts or maybe both red suits are vulnerable. Help!



bobbywolffMay 30th, 2022 at 7:25 pm

Hi Iain,

No wonder 13 is considered an unlucky

Not to mention defenders, when playing against you, somehow take fewer tricks to make them think you must possess at least enough to add to14.

Furthermore when they ask as defenders, what did you take that last trick with? Your answer is often, “My hand”! (except, of course, while playing duplicate).

Gary M. MugfordMay 31st, 2022 at 2:52 am


The single hand lead problem is, I believe, a wonderful hand for discussing assumptions. The last time I held a hand like this, the key difference was that my second ace was the solitary spade. And for me, that changes the odds to favouring the lead of the heart ace, followed by the ‘wake up’ lead of the heart jack. Partner DID hold three small trumps and with the opponents helplessly following suit with winners, trumped the third heart lead from me. One down.

Now, the game and situation fell into play on this hand since I knew I was likely to be on lead twice within the first two or three tricks. Secondly, our auction differed in that the hand behind me doubled rather than overcalled in spades, although the opponents arrived in a spade game quickly enough. To their dismay.

Both the auction at my table in my game and the auction shown here allow for the imagining of the opponents holding at least nine trumps and somewhere between 27 and 29 points. Game was confidently bid even with one hand announcing length in an off-suit and the possibility of a matching split in the rest of the hand. Not even the slightest hint of investigating slam was undertaken. This limits partner to few points, something in the 0-2 HCP range.

The great European star, Rixi Markus, would probably agree with me. Playing Tiger Bridge, the lead of the heart ace was more than cute. It was a winner.

Say hi to Judy for me.

bobbywolffMay 31st, 2022 at 3:33 am

Hi Gary,

Great to hear from you. It’s been a while and hope life has been kind.

No doubt, the possession of the singleton trump ace would IMO change everything, including following your example and leading the heart ace.

However, at least IMO, it still is a guessing game which might include allowing them to make an otherwise down one hand.

Possibly the only additional intelligent
comment I could ever make concerns itself from an early English bridge expert whose last name was Brown and wrote a sentence I will never forget in an early 1940’s book of his, named “Winning Defence” (British spelling, I think).

“If a very average bridge player would always get off to the best opening lead for his partnership, he would win every World Bridge Championship””.

No way would I challenge him.

Judy is fine, sends her love and joins me in looking forward to our next visit.