Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

Painters and poets alike have always had license to dare anything.


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


This deal came to me from a reader, Scott Nason of Dallas, who remarked on his partner’s presumptuousness in driving to a slam missing two keycards – and then some. But he also accepted full responsibility for failing to bring home the optimistic contract. Could you have done better?

When Scott’s LHO led the heart seven Scott rose with the ace, feeling confident that this particular West would not have led small from the doubleton king. The king fell from East, so the first hurdle had been crossed. But don’t relax; you need to plan the rest of the play.

Without any bidding from the opponents, the best line would probably be to play a spade toward hand, and put in the jack if RHO plays small. (If East is good enough to duck dummy’s singleton while holding the ace, you should pay off to him.) If the jack fetches the ace, the plan is to pitch a club on the king, and take the diamond finesse for the 12th trick.

But, since West had actually made a one-spade overcall, I think the best line is to play a heart to hand and put the diamond queen on the table. It is covered by the king, so you win the ace, and play a diamond to the jack. Now lead a heart to the board, and cash the diamond ten, pitching the spade jack. Then, ruff the last diamond and exit with the spade king to endplay your LHO.

If Scott had done all of that, he would have had a deal to remember.

Even if you play one spade as encouraging but not forcing – reasonable enough, though I am happy to play new suits as forcing – you should not pass now. Best is to rebid two diamonds, which is a more complete description of your hand than rebidding your hearts.


♠ 5
 A Q 9 8 6 3
 A 10 5 3
♣ 9 3
South West North East
      1 ♣
1 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


TedAugust 16th, 2017 at 6:57 pm

Hi Bobby,

From a Swiss match this past weekend, there were three hands on which I felt we didn’t handle the bidding well, but I’m not sure what should have been done. I’d appreciate any comments/suggestions from you and the group.

1) NS Vul E deals

P P 1C 1H
1S 2H all pass

North: Ax AKJ9xx K9 Ax
South: J8x Q10 10xx QJ10xx

2) EW Vul W deals

P P 3D all pass

North: x KJ97xx x K8xxx
South: K97x A108x AQJx x

3) Both NV W deals

1H P 1NT 2D
3H P 3NT all pass

North: Q10xx 109x J A87xx
South: AKxx x AQ108xxx x


TedAugust 16th, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Bidding for the first hand should be

P P 1C 1H
1S P 2C 2H all pass

jim2August 16th, 2017 at 7:23 pm

Well, I am not Our Host, but you did say “the group. 🙂

1) North must start with a strong bid, probably Double with the intention to bid hearts over any response.

2) With both majors and opening HCPs, South must act, again, probably Double. If North bids clubs, then it can end up disaster, but selling out to 3D bid in 3rd seat rarely goes well, trump stack or no trump stack.

3) I think this is closer, but I would again Double, intending to bid Diamonds over any non-spade bid.

Iain ClimieAugust 16th, 2017 at 8:17 pm

HI Ted,

I’m with Jim2 on one but after 3D P P, on 2, my notorious enthusiasm for overdoing things would probably get 3NT. This could be very, very expensive, of course while my length in diamonds suggests partner is short so not very strong – which I’d have worked out after takign the plunge!

On the 3rd one, one of our oppo has got to be bluffing liiking at the 2 hands, as we have half the pack. Again I’m probably going to double 3NT but I mean it, not take out. What haappened at the table (after Bobby has answered, obviously)?



Iain ClimieAugust 16th, 2017 at 8:53 pm

Sorry Ted, terribly sloppy post above – I’d just got in after a long drive after a couple of days away on business. Still doesn’t excuse finger-brain disconnect!


Bobby WolffAugust 16th, 2017 at 10:27 pm

Hi Ted with Jim2 & Iain as associated truth tellers,

Although normal PR is expected and sometimes mandatory, perhaps discussing bridge as much as any competitive endeavor, requires both affirmation when agreed, but when not, degree of difference (and why) appears necessary, if for no other reason than that emphasis determining degree of importance for even the opportunity to develop an “A” game.

Let the fun begin (appropriate drum roll):

#1: Since your North hand only included 12 cards I am adding a small spade, diamond or heart to round it off. The “missing link” so to speak, is that North’s 1st bid MUST start with double and then if it proceeded the way you suggest, a mere 2 heart intervention would be enough, since it was sufficient, but if the opener had raised spades, then, of course, 3 hearts need be bid. Depending on what happens next will cause South to make a key decision on whether to raise or, more likely since his club suit looks lifeless, merely pass.

#2: While in 2nd seat, after his RHO has passed, North MUST open his hand with 2 hearts my choice, 3 hearts 2nd, and 1 heart 3rd
all ahead of pass. Then South would take charge and finally sign off at 5 hearts after finding 2 Aces or KCs missing and needs to guess the hand well to make it, but discussing our great game does not work well, unless all parties privy tell and accept the truth.

#3: After it goes 1H by LHO P 1NT then I would double since the short route to game 4 spades must be completely explored before settling for diamonds. After doubling I intend to bid at least up to 3 diamonds and likely 4 diamonds, taking my chances since it is just too dangerous not to explore a pointed suit game.

Obviously with all three of these hands more could be said, but hopefully enough has been suggested by all three of your bridge friends.

I will now read what the others had to say and think it through. Good luck and here is hoping that these types of sessions help not only us, but all others who both take the time to read what is said, but to delve even deeper and begin to understand the responsibility of high-level bidding.

Thanks to all who participate.

TedAugust 16th, 2017 at 10:28 pm

Thanks Jim2 and Iain.

Hand 1 I still had the bidding wrong as North Doubled on his first bid then rebid 2H.

Hands 2 and 3 were, at the table, state of the match bids. We had a huge lead and E/W were taking flyers. Partner and I were simply trying to avoid a series of disasters. We would probably have bid differently in a normal situation, but I’m still not sure what bids would have been best.

On hand 2, at this vulnerability should North open 2H in second seat? (Would have made things a lot simpler on the actual cards!)

Hand 1 — made 5H (4 without a defensive error)
Hand 2 — down 1 (could have made; makes 5H)
Hand 3 — down 4 (makes 4S or 5D)

TedAugust 16th, 2017 at 10:37 pm

Thanks, Bobby. Your response wasn’t up when I wrote my previous posting. Sorry for the missing small diamond on Hand 1.

I hadn’t thought of initially doubling on Hand 3. Definitely something I should have considered.