Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday May 9th, 2017

Wit will shine Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line.

John Dryden

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

*splinter-raise of hearts


Most of us are familiar with the idea that unnecessary jumps in an uncontested auction can be used for splinter bids. The definition of a splinter – devised by Dave Cliff and Dorothy Hayden Truscott in the 1960’s – is a forcing raise in partner’s suit, showing a singleton or void in the named suit.

The logic of the application of a splinter extends to the contested auction. On the sequence presented in today’s auction, where South was playing four-card majors, West promised both minors, and the jump to four clubs was a splinter raise, showing game-going values, with short clubs. It also set up a forcing pass if the opponents had bid on.

After West’s revealing lead of the spade two against four hearts, South saw that he surely had two losers in that suit. To set up an endplay, South won his ace, took the club ace and ruffed a club, crossed to hand with a top trump to ruff a club, then drew the remaining trumps and led a diamond toward the king.

Whether West flew up with the ace or ducked, declarer could no longer be defeated. Say West ducks; declarer wins the king and plays a second diamond. East can win, but if he does he will be endplayed out of a spade trick, and that will still be 10 tricks for declarer. If West instead wins the second diamond and cashes the third, then he will have to give a ruff-sluff, and one of the spade losers goes away.

You may not have much in the way of high cards but you have a lot of playing strength and must compete to two spades. The secrets of responding to take-out doubles is for your hand – the advancer — to take up the slack, while the doubler assumes his partner knows what he has (opening values with suitable shape) and tends only to bid again with extra shape or high cards.


♠ K J 10 9 3
 3 2
 J 9
♣ 10 7 5 3
South West North East
Pass 1 Dbl. Pass
1 ♠ Dbl. Pass 2

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


slarMay 23rd, 2017 at 2:46 pm

As an aside, I was talking the other day where most people around here have abandoned penalty doubles over 1NT. Well, not all! In the past we spent a lot of time sorting out our runouts in case this ever came up. Lot of good it did us! We tried scrambling (I was 3=4=2=4 with 1HCP) but ended up playing 2SX in a 4-3 fit down 3. Oops. And the opponents can only make 2NT. At least it was pairs.

Iain ClimieMay 23rd, 2017 at 9:23 pm

Hi Slar,

Many years ago I used to play 10-12 NT throughout at pairs with pass after 1N (X) compelling a redouble either as part of a rescue sequence or for blood. Not for the faint-hearted I admit, but it did liven the evening up.



slarMay 24th, 2017 at 1:07 am

We’ve got a crazy runout, absurdly complicated for how rarely it comes up over a strong NT. Redouble is a runout and pass is forcing. Opener can either bid a 5 card suit or redouble. Responder can either pass or bid a minor. However, if we ever switch to a weak NT (a dying breed, it seems), we’ll be ready.

Bobby WolffMay 24th, 2017 at 1:54 am

Hi Slar & Iain,

No fair to play either fancy complicated runouts, or a dying breed, weak NT. Especially so, when having so much fun, it may influence others to duplicate.

Better to look and act spooky, often snarl and definitely not friendly, but most likely continue to win more than others. Until most players in the room become sad when you and partner show up, all will know that, at least up to now, your partnership has yet to make it.

Summing up, having fun is very risky, not to mention, anti-social.

Brenda ShockeyMay 25th, 2017 at 3:12 pm