Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, June 15th, 2017

Into the face of the young man…there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French.

P. G. Wodehouse

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

*hearts and a minor, 6-10


Benedicte Cronier, one of the world’s strongest woman players, stars in today’s deal from the 2016 European Championships. France was leading Croatia narrowly as this deal appeared.

South’s balanced hand influenced her to play three no-trump, but understandable as this might have been, four spades would have been easy by comparison, and had been bid and made by her opponents. So it gave Croatia a chance to pull the match out of the fire.

Had East played low at trick one when West led the diamond 10, declarer’s goose would have been cooked. Instead, East won her king and returned a low diamond, giving declarer the flimsiest of lifelines.

Cronier won the diamond return in dummy, then took the heart ace and led a low heart to her nine. That was the first of the slim chances she had to take. She next advanced the club jack from her hand, because she knew East had nine high cards in the red suits, so the club queen had to be to her left. She let it run when West resisted the temptation to cover, and next played a club to the king, cashed the spade ace and could return to hand with the club ace.

At this point she exited with the diamond queen from her hand. While East could win, and cash two more diamonds, she then had to lead a heart into declarer’s tenace. So Cronier had come to one spade and one diamond trick, together with three clubs and four hearts, for her contract.

The two most popular conventions to show two-suiters after the opponents open the bidding are the Unusual No-trump, and the Michaels Cuebid. Had East opened one club, a jump to two no-trump would show the red suits. After a one-spade opening, a cuebid of two spades shows this hand, which is at the minimum end of the range for what partner might expect – especially if you are vulnerable.


♠ 7
 Q 10 6 5 4
 A K 6 5 3
♣ 10 5
South West North East
      1 ♠

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


Patrick CheuJune 29th, 2017 at 1:53 pm

Hi Bobby,If East’s shape had been 2542,South would still go down in 3N,on West’s 10D lead,as the play went.Equally West might have led a heart or a which case 3N is a walk in the park.Would you(as South) not be tempted to bid 2N as well? Is North’s 3H still looking for spade support and should show x or xx in hearts? regards~Patrick.

Bobby WolffJune 29th, 2017 at 3:32 pm

Hi Patrick,

Again you go straight to, and have a special knack, at least IMO, to go straight to, what needs to be gathered and then learned.

Obviously in the play, West is favored to have both the Q and the 10 of clubs, making 3NT impossible to manage, when East has, as advertised, 5-5 in the reds. No doubt 4 spades is a much better contract, but the above has little to teach, since I truly suspect that I would use the same judgment as Sputh, disdaining contracting for 10 tricks instead of 9, simply because of my heart holding and, of course, the very balanced nature of my hand (possible heart ruff out at the start and secondary trick taking with the cards I hold).

However, when making what turns out to be a poor decision, but then switching to and devoting her whole mindset to the specific problem, Benedicte devoted her full attention to the play and, at least this time, came up roses.

Your questions are all good, except perhaps being not quite so specific (concerning the heart holding), but North is definitely asking for secondary spade support.

Partner had it, didn’t show it, resulting in an inferior contract, but still, by deft reasoning (alternatively described as “lucky”) scored it up and lived happily to win the match.

All the above are the marks of a champion (which she is, along with her partner, Sylvie Willard)) and symbolize what is best and brightest in our great game.