Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 30th, 2017

All argument is against it, but all belief is for it.

Samuel Johnson

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

*hearts, game forcing

**short spades


In today’s deal the bidding (or lack thereof) gives you a vital clue to the lie of the cards.

When West leads the spade king against six hearts, you win and draw trump in two rounds while ruffing two spades in your hand and one club in the dummy, eliminating the black suits.

West drops the black jacks on the third round of spades and clubs. This tends to suggest that if anyone holds four diamonds, it will be him. Another clue is that if West had a singleton diamond and 10 cards in the black suits, with a known good spade suit, he would surely have bid over one heart.

Taking all of this into account, you should lead the diamond eight, planning to run it. If East wins with a singleton nine, jack or queen, he will have to concede a ruff-and-discard with his return. If he wins and is able to return a diamond, the suit will break 3-2. At the table, if West covers the diamond eight, you will win dummy’s diamond ace and continue with a low diamond toward your 10. West will win the trick, but must then lead away from his remaining diamond honor, or give a ruff-and-sluff.

If the auction or play had led you to believe that East had the diamond length, you would instead cash the diamond ace and lead low toward your 10. When East rises with the queen or jack on the second round, he would then have to lead into your diamond tenace or concede the ruffsluff.

To bid on in this uncontested auction would be to make a constructive try for game. To put it another way, switch your majors and you might just be worth a two spade call. As it is, with three small spades pass, and hope to make it. A one no-trump call by you would show 18-20; more than a direct one no-trump overcall.


♠ 7 6 2
 K Q 10 4
 A K 4 2
♣ K 6
South West North East
      1 ♣
Dbl. Pass 1 ♠ 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


Jeff SApril 13th, 2017 at 1:26 pm


In BWTA, as an unpassed hand, would North bid 2S here if he wanted to signal something beyond “I am bidding cuz you made me”? How much would he need to make that (or some other) forward-looking bid?


Bobby WolffApril 13th, 2017 at 3:39 pm

Hi Jeff S,

The answer to your first question is a definite yes.

In order to jump (bid one more than is necessary), he would need approximately 9-11 points, enough to invite game, but not to force to it. He would also only need a four card suit since your takeout double only suggests at least three in both unbid majors.

Something like either 1. s. KQ84, h. J3, d. Q973. c. QJ3 or 2, s. KQJ98, h. J95, d. Q85, c. 82.

Then after a forward going bid of 2NT by partner, with the first hand simply bid 3NT, but with the second hand prefer to rebid 3 spades to which partner should probably raise to 4.
Since neither 2 spades by the responder, nor 2NT or 3 spades by the take out doubler would be forcing, it is quite all right and certainly prudent to pass, but in case of a tie (something extra), almost all winning players accept the invitation, unless they are indeed a minimum for their bid.

Also, with my examples, a return to 3 spades by responder is also not forcing and shows a minimum but certainly 5+ spades such as s. QJ9854, h. A3, d. 87, c. 982 or with the minor suits reversed.

You will probably note that the counting of points can vary, especially as a player matures and of course, then better understands the value of fits and distributional points.

There are NO child prodigies in bridge, and IMO never will be, as there are in music, but certainly ones with arithmetical or more properly called, numerate talents. Those who are, and only then after gaining the experience of playing the game against worthy opponents and with a like partner, have a chance to develop into something special.

Without that, the game will always be more difficult for some, rather than others, but sheer ‘wanting to’ is a good enough reason to at least, try!