Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 10th, 2015

Men were not intended to work with the accuracy of tools, to be precise and perfect in all their actions.

John Ruskin

West North
North-South ♠ J 6 2
 Q 6
 K J 7 4
♣ A K 9 8
West East
♠ Q 10 8 7
 K 2
 A 3 2
♣ Q 10 7 4
♠ K 9 5 4 3
 J 9 8 3
 10 9
♣ 3 2
♠ A
 A 10 7 5 4
 Q 8 6 5
♣ J 6 5
South West North East
  1♣ Pass 1*
Dbl. 2♠ Dbl. 3♠
Pass Pass 4 NT Pass
5 All pass    



At the Yeh Bros Cup the match between the Sweden and Italy teams produced a splendid example of card-reading plus playing for the best chance to make an unlikely game. Antonio Sementa was the declarer here in an extremely delicate minor-suit game.

Presumably Sementa’s double of the spade-showing one heart showed hearts and a minor. It seems best to play the double and cuebid here as each showing a specific minor along with the unbid major, in this case hearts. Giorgio Duboin drove to game when confident he was facing short spades, and Sementa had to play five diamonds on a spade lead.

He took an uncharacteristically long time to play to trick two, but came to the right conclusion that East’s decision to compete to three spades marked him with extra shape. Since Sementa needed trumps to split, it was right for declarer to play him to hold heart length, because if he had club length Sementa would be left with three fairly sure losers. By contrast, if East had short clubs, the club and heart finesses might both work.

Eventually, declarer led a trump to dummy to run the heart queen. Nystrom won and also took his time before playing ace and another diamond. Declarer won in hand, passed the club jack, covered all round, finessed in hearts, set up the hearts, ruffed a spade back to hand, and finally took the second club finesse for 11 tricks. This was a fine example of placing the cards where they needed to be, to find a route to success.

It would be simple just to bid five hearts here. But this hand has quite significant slam potential, so it might be more discreet not to commit your hand to a single contract. Try a bid of four no-trump, suggesting two places to play, planning to convert a response of five clubs to five hearts, making a slam-try for hearts.


♠ A
 A 10 7 5 4
 Q 8 6 5
♣ J 6 5
South West North East
  3♠ Dbl. 4♠

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


David WarheitApril 24th, 2015 at 10:09 am

On BWTA, what should S bid if N bids 5D over 4NT?

bobby wolffApril 24th, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Hi David,

Yes, I can and will give you an answer to what I would bid over a response of 5D to my 4NT takeout.

However, before doing so, I want to take the time to emphasize how competitive bidding by difficult opponents (meaning tough to play against) undoubtedly adversely affects our side’s accuracy sometimes about both strain and level.

Since partner has definitely preferred diamonds to hearts, it, if anything, has improved our prospects (more of a fit than could be), but however since hearts was my major reason for first bidding 4NT rather than just 5 hearts, I need to complete my description to partner by now bidding where I live.

My alternative choice of action could have just been a competitive 5 hearts immediately, but by bidding 4NT first and then following with 5 hearts will get across my values (high cards and good distribution) in a more complete description.

And always remember, which I am sure you do, a particular hand constantly changes in value as the bidding develops and all we can do is attempt to inform partner that ever changing fact, so that in the space allotted, he will be informed as accurately as possible, the information we are attempting to convey.

I suspect, based on my many years of experience, that if our side has a slam make, it is at least as likely to be in diamonds as it would be in hearts, but since I cannot both offer a slam try and still be able to play a lesser game contract, I have precious little bidding room left to follow through. Since, no doubt, my partner will now know I have a good hand, it is up to him to now make the next decision.

If he now bids either 5 spades, 5NT or 6 clubs, I will then, of course, offer 6 diamonds and pass either 6 diamonds or 6 hearts.

World class bridge, particularly against top opposition, is not about playing aces and cinches, but rather attempting to make the best partnership choice out of difficult decisions.

bobby wolffApril 24th, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Hi David,

Please forgive the goof of in the first sentence of the third paragraph, hearts should instead be clubs.

Oh, for not having to be faced with erratum will, at least for me, to have to wait for the next life.

Iain ClimieApril 24th, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Hi Bobby,

It would depend on oppo, vulnerability and form of scoring (possibly match position too) but is there any case for punting 6H on BWTA? How far is such a bid along the scale from playing poker to metaphorically playing Russian roulette?



bobby wolffApril 24th, 2015 at 6:51 pm

Hi Iain,

Very simply, punting 6 hearts reduces this hand to expecting to make it (IMO about 35%) or having them sacrifice in 6 spades and then collecting the maximum penalty (about another 35%) either of which happening, especially making the slam, would be both a very good match point score and/or an excellent IMP position.

The other side would create a poor result in either form of scoring. Would it be worth doing?

As you might say, exciting, yes, so just do it.