Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

Yet everybody says I’m such a disagreeable man! And I can’t think why!

W. S. Gilbert

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


There’s the rub!

This column does not always agree with the experts. In today’s deal, from the semi-finals of the NEC teams I was shocked to see two of the four Souths opening two clubs here. Both players ran into competition and were forced to describe their hand as an equal two-suiter, and in one case North ended up in six clubs (down like a stone), in one case six diamonds.

Of course six clubs isn’t much worse than six diamonds – since if clubs are 5-0, surely West could double six diamonds by North for the lead. Not today, apparently, since where North played six diamonds, West didn’t double, and East tried to cash the spade ace instead of leading a club. Since six clubs had gone four down, that was a 15 IMP swing to the eventual winners of the tournament.

In our other match, both tables managed the auction more intelligently. They reached six diamonds from the South seat, their sides’ best contract. Both Wests tried to put their partner in for the club ruff. One West led the spade nine, finding his partner with the spade ace – but that was not enough today. In the other room Sjoert Brink of the Netherlands led a low heart away from his ace. Bas Drijver could win his heart king, and then had no trouble in working out why his partner had such a degree of urgency to put him on lead. He played a club to give his partner the ruff, for a huge pickup for his team.

The double of four hearts is for take-out, but there are limits to when you have to obey your partner; and my guess is that this hand is far more suitable for defense than offence. My weak spades and trump winner suggest passing the double makes more sense than bidding here.


♠ 7 6 5 2
 Q J 5
 Q 10 4
♣ Q 6 2
South West North East
  4 Dbl. 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieMay 10th, 2016 at 9:21 pm

Hi Bobby,

The folly of opening 2C can be imagined if the next hand bids 4S and lard doubles on the basis of your high cards and balanced bits. all too easy to envisage hands opposite which fit very badly, so the only chance is to defend, or where pard sees dbl as his only sensible bid and 4Sx is cold. 1D is hardly getting passed out here (can anyone construct a case where it would be) and the hand is a rare case where the old strong 2D would work well.



bobby wolffMay 10th, 2016 at 11:11 pm

Hi Iain,

Although an opening 1 diamond bid (instead of a forcing but artificial 2 clubs) stands out to me for reasons already well pointed out, if after deciding to open 2 clubs, having it go 4 of a major on my left, double by partner, wild horses would not stop me from probably just bidding 6 diamonds and take my chances.

Nothing scientific, but such things do exist in all forms of high-level competition, and not to go out swinging is not, IMO, the way to go for players who want to win.

More good things can happen than one thinks, since even when we have overextended at least one of our worthy opponents may not know we have, causing them to come to our rescur.

In other words, it is just too dangerous to not venture 6 diamonds.

slarMay 11th, 2016 at 3:06 am

Around these parts, I prefer to play the double of four hearts as penalty-oriented as opposed to takeout-oriented. That makes the question a lot easier. We’re all guessing at this point, but there is something to be said for taking your plus. If the 4H bid was known to be particularly sound, I might be more inclined to treat the double as takeout.

bobby wolffMay 11th, 2016 at 11:36 am

Hi Slar,

When reality trumps speculation, one needs to realize our game, not being anywhere near the exact science some dreamers think it is, winning judgment needs to be the elephant in the room and just the appropriate action for a smattering of high cards, perhaps the possibility for a trick or two should enable the partner of a very strong hand to generally announce it.

In the absence of much discussion, but still choosing to be a good partner, one probably needs to show such a hand with a double rather than a negative pass so that partner can now afford to take pot luck with bidding, rather than slinking back into the nether world of hoping two things:

1. We should set them, and since I would not be reasonably sure we can do better elsewhere by bidding, let us take the almost sure plus.

2. We sometimes underestimate the value of monstrous distributional hands, and although no doubt, we are risking to get, that IMO, is the percentage way to go.

Of course, if partner had three or four trump tricks, like you hope, (possible but not likely, but instead enough to make a slam) as Lucy’s husband Desi used to say, “There will be some splaining to do”. but that is the nature of the game and nothing on the bridge horizon indicates it will be different in the future.