Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

For everything you have missed, you have gained something, and for everything you gain, you lose something.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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



Today’s deal from the Yeh Bros qualifying saw the meeting of two squads who were on the verge of qualifying, and a missed opportunity for one of them.

In one room Jack Zhao showed the minors as East and bought an exceptionally poor dummy in three clubs doubled. The defenders took pity on him and never played trumps at all, allowing a diamond ruff in dummy. Still, minus 300 was not a great position for East-West with four spades so awkward.

Zejun Zhuang received the lead of the diamond 10 and ducked it to East’s queen. Back came a club and he won in dummy, led a low trump to the queen and ace, and guessed well when he next led a heart to the nine and king. A second club came back, so he won in hand and played a third club, planning to pitch a diamond and cross-ruff.

Alas for declarer, when West could ruff in, declarer was left with an inevitable trump and diamond loser. At trick six, had declarer taken a second heart finesse, by running the eight, covered by West, he would have been much better placed. He next leads out the spade jack then 10, which West must duck or declarer can draw trump and cash the club winner then take a third heart finesse. When both trumps are ducked, declarer changes tack and plays the diamond ace, ruffs a heart to hand and leads the club queen to pitch dummy’s diamond, leaving West with just the master trump.

Your hand is worth an invitation to game, and the obvious suit in which you should play is diamonds (notwithstanding the fact that your clubs are better than your diamonds, your partner rates to have longer diamonds than clubs). So bid three diamonds, and let your partner decide where, if anywhere, to go from here.


♠ A 9 8 5
 8 6 5
 J 5 2
♣ A Q 8
South West North East
  Pass 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


jim2April 22nd, 2015 at 8:58 pm

On BWTA, what would 2H show by South?

bobby wolffApril 22nd, 2015 at 11:33 pm

Hi Jim2,

Unfortunately, in the absence of a specific understanding to not, a bid of the 4th suit by the responder is game forcing. The absence of any honor, nor 4 card+ length, does not prevent bidding it, only the weakness in strength.

Give South the same hand with Axx in hearts rather than xxx and 2 hearts clearly becomes the right choice (at least IMO). Not only does my hand improve enough to demand bidding game, but if NT is the eventual contract, any honor (or sometimes high intermediates) my partner may have in hearts, especially the queen tends to make it a slam dunk for him, not I, to be declaring this hand.

Consequently the mere diamond raise is suggested and should be treated similarly to a simple club raise rather than a jump and only be invitational to bid further but not forcing.

Joe1April 23rd, 2015 at 12:31 am

Is the diamond game obvious? Couldn’t N be 2-1-5-5, in which case clubs may be better, or 2-3-4-4, if HA or HK, NT has a play?

3 D bid bypasses 3 C, which may be considered: If N bids 3 NT I pass, if 3H (4th suit) I delay support diamonds. If 3D, I can try 4-5D, if 4C, consider 5. If partner passes, then game wasn’t in the cards. At least that is how a rookie reads it.

bobby wolffApril 23rd, 2015 at 4:36 pm

Hi Joe1,

The choice of trump contracts have everything to do with overall length of suit in the combined hands and not with the specific overall strength.

Whatever suit is trump needs to be long enough to extract the opponent’s fangs while the strength of other suits will still take tricks after the so called “kiddies” are off the street.

With 2-3-4-4 and responding to 1 spade after opening 1 diamond, usually a 1NT rebid will be best and with 3-2-4-4 a simple raise to 2 spades will be preferred. If the responder only had a 4 card suit to respond at the one level, the fact that he was raised, in NO way, guarantees 4, so that if responder rebids that suit over a 2 level raise, he will always have 5+ to do so.

Also, an opening bid of 1 diamond followed by a rebid of 2 clubs will always promise at least 9 cards in those combined suits, never only 8 but sometimes more than 9.

Although you may be a rookie now, your inquiring mind, as long as you listen to reliable sources, will soon have you moving on the up elevator to successful bridge technique.

Yes, the example hand looks, at the point mentioned, to lend itself to a final NT contract, but only if the opener has hearts stopped and the two hands together count out to 26 HCP’s (assuming bidding game is the goal).

Bridge bidding can be somewhat simple, but the basics need to be well learned. In any event, please inquire when faced with a difficult question and good luck with your possible forthcoming bridge addiction.