Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.

Rudyard Kipling

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


It is always satisfying when a swing is generated in a team game by one player following the right line, one the wrong, and the card gods demonstrating that justice will be done, though the heavens fall.

In today’s deal both tables played four spades, on a low diamond lead – though it seems perfectly reasonable to me to lead the nine here – it may even persuade declarer to mishandle the trumps if he suspects a bad diamond break.

Be that as it may, in one room declarer took the diamond finesse, thinking that he would break even by pitching a club loser on the diamond ace if it lost. That ignored the possible defensive club ruff, and with the cards lying as they did, even when no club ruff was forthcoming, there was still no practical way to avoid losing two clubs and a trump. Down one.

In the other room South realized that he was faced with a classic elimination hand. The only problem was to check that there were enough trumps to complete the elimination without risk. South won the diamond ace, played off the spade ace (happy to see the 2-1 break) and ruffed a diamond. Then he led a heart to the king and ruffed a diamond, cashed the heart ace and ruffed a heart. Finally he exited with a trump, and let the opponents open up the club suit to his benefit.

Whatever the defenders did, they could take only two club tricks now.

With your diamond honors probably not pulling their full weight, it is far from clear that you are worth even one slam try. Since spades are agreed, you can bid a forcing three clubs, but unless partner makes a call such as four diamonds to show a diamond splinter, I’m not sure I would even look for slam.


♠ A J 7 3
 K 4
 A Q 5
♣ Q 8 4 2
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 ♠ 2 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


jim2November 30th, 2016 at 1:39 pm

On BWTA, how would you rate a call of 3N?

Bobby WolffNovember 30th, 2016 at 5:01 pm

Hi Jim2,

No less than 100%! A textbook example of what that call would mean, not that I wouldn’t make the same bid without the jack of spades and the queen of clubs.

Simply said, it gives partner the option of either passing or returning to 4 spades (while holding 4 trumps), unless he happened to be 4-3-3-3 to which, I would normally eschew the 4-4 major suit fit in favor of the 9 trick game, based only on long run experience of what I think works and what doesn’t.

PS: Others may think since the 3NT bidder is not likely also 4-3-3-3 (in spite of his rebid) as is here they would then prefer to correct to the major. However, for 2 reasons I would not:

1. Nine tricks necessary instead of ten.

2. Leads vs. NT tend to be much looser and intended to establish a set up suit ASAP (often giving a trick away) instead of a combination of safety along with chances for constructive trick establishment.

No one will be right anywhere near all the time with this type choice, but being right 51% instead of a random 50% only makes this judgment right. And the beat goes on.

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