Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.

lan Poe

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

*second negative


Do not worry about how to bid the South cards. The chances are that you’ll get a hand of this strength about once every 10 years (so long as you play two sessions of bridge a day, every day of the week).

South receives negative responses from North at his first three turns, as well he might. He then has to decide whether to risk the five-level in search of a slam. When he does, North has – in context – a pretty good hand with a guaranteed working honor and three trumps, enough to bid on.

To make his slam, South must try to avoid the loss of two spade tricks, which is simple enough if each opponent has three spades. If spades break four-two, however, South must play with some care. The key is to draw only one round of trumps before conceding a spade. At that point the defenders rate to exit in a minor, and now declarer draws a second round of trump and tests spades.

South must hope that the player with four spades also has three or more trumps. Then South will be able to ruff his last spade in dummy without being over-ruffed.

The traps are to draw two rounds of trumps before giving up a spade, when East would return a third trump to kill the spade ruff in dummy. But also note that if South does not draw two rounds of trump, instead cashing one or two top spades before giving up a spade, then East can lead another spade and allow West to ruff. Either way, South would go down.

Although it is arguable that a call of two of a minor by your partner might be trying to improve the contract, a two heart bid shows real extras. He would pass with five hearts and no extras. You have just enough extras to bid, but your cards are so soft that maybe a raise to three hearts should suffice. Let partner try to get back to three no-trump if he wants to.


♠ Q J 9 8
 9 8 4
 Q 10 3
♣ Q J 9
South West North East
Pass 1 ♠ Dbl. Pass
1 NT Pass 2 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


Bruce karlsonAugust 29th, 2017 at 10:03 am

BWTA: off to the woodshed again: with no apparent ruffing value and Spades well stopped, my decision would be either 2 or 3 NT, probably 2 as my strength incudes too many slow winners and partner might have a 17 count.

Bobby WolffAugust 29th, 2017 at 3:37 pm

Hi Bruce,

No woodshed for you since I heartily agree with your bidding choices and why.

I would rate 3NT=100, 2NT=90, 3 hearts=80 with pass=20. 3NT ahead of 2NT simply because of the nine eight of spades, a holding which, at least to me, may well make the difference in NT, but not necessarily nor likely in hearts.

Finally, partner will have a 17+ count or else a 6th heart which almost undoubtedly will result (barring bad breaks) in the game going trick. If I rebid only 2NT, partner may offer a choice of the two games, by rebidding 3 spades, and if so I will choose 3NT. Notice that the 3rd heart in your hand is probably every bit as valuable in NT as in hearts.

Those above facts do not come to everyone’s thinking in the earlier days when rising in the up elevator to becoming a good player. That is why there are no child geniuses in bridge.

Mircea1August 31st, 2017 at 1:30 pm

Hi Bobby,

Is it not possible to concede a spade at trick 2, win any return, draw two rounds of trump, play the top spades and ruff a spade? It requires the same condition – the opponent with long spades to have long trump but just has a different timing.

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