Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

In the rotation of crops there was a recognized season for wild oats; but they were not sown more than once.

Edith Wharton

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


With his values concentrated in his long suits, and fine heart intermediates, South has a far more promising opening bid than most balanced 12-counts.

North can force to game with a two-over-one response, then raise hearts and try for slam. South will put the brakes on firmly, and unless North suffers a severe rush of blood to the head, South will finish in four hearts. Against this contract, West has a straightforward lead of a top spade. South ducks the first two spades in dummy, but when a third spade is played (a trump shift was essential) he must ruff. Declarer can now see that if the club ace is offside, and diamonds do not break, he may need to plan what he will do with his fourth diamond.

When declarer plays a club to the king, East wins (though ducking might make declarer’s task a little harder). East returns a club, and dummy wins. It is far more likely that trumps are breaking 3-2 than that diamonds are 3-3, or that the same hand has long diamonds and long clubs, so South changes tack. He ruffs a club in hand, crosses to dummy with a diamond, and ruffs another club. By this time, South has ruffed three times in his hand. This leaves him with only two trumps in hand compared to dummy’s three.

South can draw trump in three rounds, discarding his last diamond on dummy’s long trump, and come to 10 tricks in the form of one club, three ruffs, three trumps, and three diamonds: a perfect dummy reversal.

If you do not play any conventions in this sequence, redoubling then raising hearts is the best way to show these values. However, one of Marty Bergen’s most useful ideas was to play that one or both of the minor-suit responses after the double of a major should be subverted for a constructive major-suit raise. For more details see bridge-learning-center/detail/704.


♠ A 9 8 7
 7 5 4
 J 8
♣ A 10 9 3
South West North East
  Pass 1 Dbl.

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


Iain ClimieSeptember 12th, 2017 at 11:13 am

HI Bobby,

Only a minor point but should declarer cover the 2nd spade as it may be harder for East to find the trump switch? If East echoes showing length, West could and maybe should, avoid the third spade as it is (OK should be) clear to him that it won’t do any good. From East’s viewpoint, South might hold 3-5-4-1 (or even 3-5-5-0 when noting helps) but there is a 3rd spade to be taken.



bobby wolffSeptember 12th, 2017 at 3:39 pm

Hi Iain,

Your comment has nothing short of brilliant overtones.

As is not often the case, East, rather than West, while in possession of the ace of clubs, is in a great position to almost guarantee the declarer’s whole (almost exact) hand, with the exception of who possesses, South or West, the jack of clubs. While I do not mean whether declarer has 3 spades and 1 club or only 2 spades and 2 clubs (either being almost equally likely).

Sure, declarer could be 5-5 in the red suits, but a good player on the way to moving up a step should not worry about that, since, if so, nothing winning can be done about setting that contract.

Of course, the defense, in this case especially West, needs to be familiar with dummy reversals and how that gambit can produce the crucial (in this case) game going trick, but that is only a mere hurdle to jump, by doing that deed.

No doubt, problem solving, whether it is declarer or either player on defense, is often paramount. Here it is, so thank you Iain for your “simple enough” statement, but boldly echoing through the glen to all bridge aspirants who love the game and its many attributes.

No doubt the ace of spades will be offside and if so, perhaps only doubleton, another reason to duck. If West has found the lead from AQJ, I suggest bowing deep to him immediately after the hand especially if he follows up his two winning spades (QJ) by switching to a trump.

If he does, some player that West!!! I really want him to be on my next team-of-four, unless he loses all his considerable luck next time, when choosing the opening lead.

BTW, many thanks Iain, for giving us a strong bridge tenet to ponder.

Chris stevensSeptember 12th, 2017 at 7:16 pm

Hi bobby
Small world playing with Iain climie tonight but normally play with Patrick

bobby wolffSeptember 12th, 2017 at 7:28 pm

Hi Chris,

Whichever one you would be playing with, makes
you a very lucky person. Obviously then I am wishing you the very best of luck.

Iain ClimieSeptember 13th, 2017 at 8:15 am

Hi Bobby,

It went fairly well last night (scratch partnership and team) but I’d met Chris a few weeks ago and we agreed to have a game. He said he knew my name from somewhere but eventually the penny dropped and he realised it was occasionally reading this blog. I always thought Patrick was from your side of the pond, though; live & learn!



bobby wolffSeptember 13th, 2017 at 1:51 pm

Hi Iain,

So did I, (think Patrick was more or less on USA time), but that mystery of the Internet, since the whole wide world continues to get smaller, has generally become a very minor one.

However, instead, an important major one revolves itself with just how many bridge lovers (and add only regular players) do enjoy the comrade-ship, general bridge learning, but mostly, the back and forth of our site.

We may never know, but only the thought of perhaps many the world over, does gladden my heart, and may encourage all of us vocal ones to give our best efforts to be appreciative, accurate, thorough, and emphasize all the magic associated with playing our sensational game.

Thank you and all who often participate, without which our achievement in lionizing bridge, would have a considerably lower ceiling.