Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

There is not a fool can call me friend.

W. B. Yeats

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

*Texas Transfer to spades


Bob Scott and my old friend John Wignall were the early leaders of the pairs tournament at the Gold Coast last year in Brisbane Australia, form where all this week's deals come. The first board out of the box certainly didn't hurt.

When East led a trump against Scott’s ambitious game, (one could hardly argue with the choice of any card in his hand) that was one hurdle over. Scott’s spade seven held, and he played a second trump. East won and should surely have exited with a low club, but he cashed his club ace, receiving encouragement, then erred again by taking his heart ace before playing a second club. Scott rose with the king and led the heart 10 from hand, ducked smoothly by West. Scott overtook and ran the trumps, to reduce to a four-card ending with a trump, two hearts, and a diamond in dummy, and the ace-queen of diamonds, a heart and the club 10 in hand.

Best now would have been to cash the last trump and pitch the heart from hand. West gets caught in a triple squeeze where he must pitch the diamond king or club queen, or unguard the hearts.

Scott erred when he pitched his club 10 instead on the last trump, and now West could pitch the club queen, which he did after much squirming. Scott then cashed the heart queen, and decided the tempo indicated he should play East for the diamond king. So he led a diamond to his ace for his 10th trick.

You might feel the need to act (by bidding no-trump or raising partner) but surely now is not the moment to do so. One can raise diamonds with three — but not with such feeble trumps. And you could bid no-trump with a real source of tricks and one heart stopper such as the doubleton king — but not with these clubs and a heart holding where you might want to protect an honor in partner's hand. Pass seems right, when you have nothing to say.


♠ A J 2
 A 4
 7 5 2
♣ A 8 5 4 3
South West North East
1♣ Pass 1 1

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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


bobby wolffJanuary 27th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Hi everyone,

Obviously the last line should have said, played West, not East, for the diamond king, if only because the cards would indicate West was having trouble discarding. Not professional by us as writers nor E-W as clever and mentally tough defenders.

In any event, the game was scored up.

David WarheitJanuary 27th, 2015 at 9:50 am

Following up your comment, of course you meant to say that W, not E, led a trump at T1. Also, the squeeze worked at T9 when W was forced to come down to the singleton DK, although S doesn’t know this for sure. But being a triple squeeze, if he cashes dummy’s last S (and why wouldn’t he?), W’s discard makes everything as clear as rain.

Bob KiblerJanuary 27th, 2015 at 11:59 am

In BWTA, do you play support doubles when partner’s suit is diamonds, as here?

If you do, would you consider making one with these cards?

If not, what meaning do you ascribe to double in this situation?


Iain ClimieJanuary 27th, 2015 at 1:13 pm

Hi Bobby,

I think I’m running the H10 on the play hand as surely east hasn’t cashed the HA from AJ(x) unless he’s a Grosvenor coup fanatic or has the non-ace hearts in with the diamonds. In the main column hand, though, would you have considered, invited game opposite a weak NT or just bid 4S, or possibly transferred into it if that was your pet method.



bobby wolffJanuary 27th, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Hi David,

Yes, the opening leader was West, not East. A combination of writing mistakes and skewed directions, with poor (non-existent) proof reading allowed gremlins in the door. I can only apologize and hope to do better.

Not only playing bridge can be a jealous mistress, but the writing about it also joins in.

Jane AJanuary 27th, 2015 at 3:12 pm

This was not mentioned in the write up but I have to assume N/S was playing weak NT openers. My question is why would north jump to a game force? Would it not make more sense to invite instead? I know it is a bidder’s game, but seems like this was a unilateral decision on the part of north.

bobby wolffJanuary 27th, 2015 at 3:15 pm

Hi Bob,

I do not like “support doubles” since I believe that the advantage of doing such is overridden by the better evaluation it gives the opponents, both in the defense and in their bidding judgment.

Especially when dealing with a minor suit, usually diamonds, since the advantage, particularly three small, is such a miniscule plus.

However some good partnerships rigidly play them, which indicates that they prefer them and do not worry about the help they allow their worthy opponents. A well-timed pass, at least to me, tends to get across the minimum nature and thus the basic picture as well as the usually unimportant advantage of announcing three of partner’s minor.

In lieu of “support doubles”, and early in the bidding, I prefer the showing of extra strength, but not clear cut direction to represent otherwise ambiguous double, e.g.:
South West North East
1 diamond 1 heart 1 spade 2 hearts
Double would then show. s. AJ, h. Ax, K10xxxx, c. AJx or s. Kx, h. x, AJ10xxx, c. AKxx
which definitely shows extra, but choices (some spade support and uncertainty between rebidding a not great original suit (diamonds) with a 2nd suit (2 less) which could also eventually be worthy (with support) and asks partner to do something intelligent the next round.

The above becomes worth discussing with partner and, at least to me, more valuable than the whole concept of requiring 4 trumps to raise and therefore doing so often with only 3. Try it, you may like it and it will eventually improve one’s declarer play (in self-defense).

bobby wolffJanuary 27th, 2015 at 3:21 pm

Hi Iain,

I definitely agree to playing West for the 10 of hearts, based on East cashing the ace of hearts. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck……….

Also, to “punt” 4 spades (or transfer) is bold, but if so, the play needs to match that risk and when it does, that partnership will seem to come together with confidence. There is nothing so favorable as good results in getting new partner’s to appreciate each other.

Thanks for your inquiries

bobby wolffJanuary 27th, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Hi Iain,

It should be playing West for the jack of hearts, not the ten. I’ve caught my own disease.

bobby wolffJanuary 27th, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Hi Jane,

Your comment, as noted above is right on.

The late and great Edgar Kaplan, used to explain the difference between making a bold contract and going one down:

Making it will be described as daring, while not will only be foolhearty. To the victor go the spoils.