Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

I do not know which makes a man more conservative – to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past.

John Maynard Keynes

S North
None ♠ 10 4
 K J 6 2
 K 8 5
♣ K 7 5 3
West East
♠ K Q 9 6 5 3 2
 9 5
 10 7 4
♣ 8
♠ J 8 7
 A J 9 6 3
♣ Q 10 6 4
♠ A
 A Q 10 8 7 3
 Q 2
♣ A J 9 2
South West North East
1 3 ♠ 4 4 ♠
5 ♣ Pass 5 Pass
6 All pass    


When South opens one heart, West does his best to disrupt his opponents by pre-empting to the three level. It now looks natural for East to sacrifice in four spades over four hearts, but had he passed, might it have ended the auction?

As it is, South seems to have enough to compete over four spades to the five level, and maybe even to look for slam. The five club call lets North show some suitability and a diamond control, with a return cuebid of five diamonds, and that should be just enough for South to bite the bullet and bid slam.

In six hearts, after a top spade lead, you simply need to avoid losing a club, and must leave playing the suit as long as possible. Win the spade lead, draw trump by cashing the ace and leading the eight to the king, then play a diamond toward your queen. When East ducks, you win your queen and duck a diamond. East wins and returns a spade. You ruff high, lead the heart seven to the jack, and ruff a diamond high, as West follows suit again.

At this point you should count out West’s hand. He apparently started with seven spades, three or more diamonds, and two hearts, so he does not have room for more than one club.

So the winning play is clear: lead a club to the king, then follow up with a club to the nine. Next cross back to dummy with your trump three to the four, to lead a club to the jack.

Whatever your agreement in a non-competitive auction about how to continue after your partner reverses, showing real extras with both minors, competitive auctions present a different problem. A reversion to three clubs or three diamonds should not be forcing now. It is better to start with a cuebid of two spades, to set up a forcing sequence.


♠ 10 4
 K J 3 2
 K 8 5
♣ K 7 5 3
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 1 ♠ 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieMarch 16th, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Hi Bobby,

Should East have bid 5S at his first chance on the basis that it wouldn’t leave the oppo any room to do anything but guess? , Losing a trick in each suit is only -300, good against a game let alone a slam. If East does this, should a pass from South now be forcing or just show a minimum opening bid? As a slow pass puts undue pressure on partner, I suspect South would feel obliged to double.

Seeing all 4 hands, 5D from East, running to 5S would probably talk both North and South out of the slam for obvious reasons.



Bobby WolffMarch 16th, 2017 at 8:15 pm

Hi Iain,

Your competitive personality is shining forth. You do not put up with anything while lying down, but instead, fighting to protect your own turf, if for lack of a better reason, allowing as little information to be exchanged as possible by those despicable opponents, (whomever they may be).

However, while wrestling for an answer, sometimes, often depending who those specific opponents happen to be, you wind up going down an extra trick (they would have doubled 4 spades) when partner happens to have a surprise defensive trick he was saving for you.

Yes, partner (especially loving ones, although they are in short supply) always like to have a gift waiting for his or her partner, but, by doing so, often contributes to lesser results, when the battle takes the wrong turn.

However, although these wildly unknown factors determine the results, but at the time, appears to only be an innocent bystander. On this hand partner could have the singleton jack of clubs (unpredictable as it can be, but so bridge-like, especially for Jim2 and others, who are afflicted with his malady).

I cannot give you an answer to be proud, except to say, size up your opponents, attempt a winning choice against that specific partnership, and, while being prepared to sleep in the streets, let it fly, keeping in mind the right psychology of always trying to be in tune to what will likely work. However a half-step high or low will usually lose, especially against very worthy and equal competitors.

The game of poker has lived and succeeded on this very concept of intense psychological back and forth, so thanks much for your post.

jim2March 16th, 2017 at 9:30 pm

Preach it, Brother Wolff! Preach!

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 16th, 2017 at 9:39 pm

We were having computer problems. Looks like it was fixed.

Bobby WolffMarch 16th, 2017 at 9:47 pm

Hi Jim2 & Judy,

I will, and am happy that our computer problem is solved. Thanks to our Canadian savior, John Goold.

Michael BeyroutiMarch 17th, 2017 at 11:34 am

This John is as good as gold…

Bobby WolffMarch 17th, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Hi Michael,

Rivaling when one has the runs, but this one is much better, since he is always there when we need him, and oh, so talented.