Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

We find great things are made of little things, And little things go lessening till at last Comes God behind them.

Robert Browning

S North
Both ♠ K 7 6
 Q 8 5 2
 K 7 2
♣ K 7 4
West East
♠ Q 10 9 3
 K 10 7 4
 J 10 5 4
♣ 9
♠ J
 A J 9 6 3
 Q 9 8 3
♣ 10 6 2
♠ A 8 5 4 2
 A 6
♣ A Q J 8 5 3
South West North East
1 ♣ Pass 1 Pass
2 ♠ Pass 3 ♣ Pass
3 Pass 3 ♠ Pass
4 ♠ Pass 6 ♣ All pass


In today’s contract of six clubs, focus on ensuring your spade winners do not get ruffed away. Trump the heart lead at trick one and cash two high clubs from your hand. When East shows up with three, he is favorite to be the hand short in spades, if anyone is, so take the spade king and lead towards the ace. If East ruffs, you can later cash the ace and ruff the fourth round of spades. If East discards, take the ace, give up a spade, then ruff the fourth round with dummy’s king (if East ruffs his partner’s winner he no longer has a trump to play).

Your target is to protect your spade honors by following suit with your second honor after the defender with the last trump. Had you cashed the ace and led to the king, East would ruff, and you must lose another spade later. Had West turned up with three trumps, you would have played spades by first cashing the ace from hand.

One other point is that you must retain a high trump in dummy to be able to ruff the fourth round of spades high. If you use dummy’s king to draw an early round of trump, East can discard on the second round of spades and later ruff the fourth round with the club 10.

The alternative approach of cashing just one round of trump before playing spades loses when trumps are 2-2 or 3-1 and you misguess who has short spades. It gains only when the same hand has singletons in both red suits.

What is the minimum in high cards and shape that will allow you to double a two-level jump overcall with imperfect shape? This is about it, but I prefer to bid two no-trump instead, and hope to find our way back to hearts if partner has extras and short diamonds. Passing here might lead to us missing a game. Rightly or wrongly, I’m part of the school that believes in getting their blow in as early as possible.


♠ K 7 6
 Q 8 5 2
 K 7 2
♣ Q 7 4
South West North East
    1 ♣ 2

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Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieJuly 26th, 2017 at 11:22 am

Hi Bobby,

An instructive hand, although do you agree with South committing to game on his first rebid? The hand has good (but not massive) playing strength – it lacks intermediates and could fall badly foul of a misfit e.g. if partner had a fair hand (say 11+) with 5-5 in the reds, he/she might not apply the brakes.

A pox on the sneaky small colour-blind gremlin at the end, but he is easily spottable, As I typed fowl in my first bash above, I’ve just gone off due to poultry and can throw no stones.



bobby wolffJuly 26th, 2017 at 3:28 pm

Hi Iain,

First, that color blind gremlin at the end, should have risen and shouted, not just announced, come and color me differently. However, somehow he snuck in there, proud of his undeserved fame, allowing the opening quote life, to prove itself. Of course, apologies from me, the cause.

While, no doubt, you set off a valid alarm with your bridge hypothesis of being doubtful during the bidding before fits are found, sometimes by so doing we shoot ourselves in the foot.

Imagine partner with: s. Kxx, h. Jxxxx, d. xxx, c. Kx and having partner merely rebid 1 spade. I, perhaps differently than others, would quickly pass and yet either BLACK suit (look at me, gremlins off limits this time) would offer a very reasonable game contract, especially spades.

While neither I, nor should anyone else, deny your valid worry, my preference is to not overbid early (with very little) but rather to give up the ghost, set the tone, and let the devil take the future blame (if there is one to be had).

Finally, since the bridge gods are always the master (and unlikely to not always be) pay homage and therefore great respect to that
truth. To do so, may cut down on your great results, but may increase your above average ones and to further plead my case, when I pass 1 spade, the bidding isn’t necessarily over, since our opponents may now come to our aid and live to regret it.

Michael BeyroutiJuly 26th, 2017 at 3:58 pm

Felix Vondracek (from yesterday’s column) would have chosen spades as the trump suit…

bobby wolffJuly 26th, 2017 at 7:35 pm

Hi Michael,

Yes, no doubt Felix Vondracek from yesterday’s column, would have chosen the weaker suit as trump, spades, instead of the stronger (and longer suit) clubs. However my guess is that his result, +650, would score around 80% on the board, losing only to the ones who both bid and then made the club slam.

No one has ever said that tournament bridge is not both challenging and exciting and though that good matchpoint score is not nearly as sensational as 6 clubs making (+1370) it will not show up that way in the final results, except in either IMPs or rubber bridge.

Iain ClimieJuly 26th, 2017 at 7:44 pm

Hi Michael, Bobby,

Doesn’t the principle of choosing the weaker trump suit (as shown yesterday in the column and my post) only apply with equal length fits? Having said that, good 4-4 fits can play a trick better than 5-4 due to the discard, at least as long as the trumps are 3-2.



bobby wolffJuly 26th, 2017 at 10:19 pm

Hi Iain,

You definitely are on point both in what you have said, and that yesterday was applicable to same number of cards suit fits.

If either one or the other could be classified as more critical, your comment about 4-4 fits producing an extra trick when there is a 5-4 fit elsewhere probably is, but usually only when the 4-4 fit gets a normal 3-2 split.

Yesterday’s theme is less likely to occur, and when it does, needs to be recognized by the player who happens to be in the final decision making seat.