Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Is there in the whole world a being who would have the right to forgive and could forgive?

Fedor Dostoevsky

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

*guaranteeing values


Sometimes the cards allow for a slight inaccuracy, sometimes they are in unforgiving mood. Here they showed mercy to declarer.

In the qualifying rounds of the 1996 World Olympiad South Africa appeared to be heading for a big win until this deal came along.

In the closed room West opened two spades and the South African North bid three diamonds. South converted to three no-trump and West led two rounds of spades then accurately shifted to hearts; when declarer lost the diamond finesse, that meant two down.

On vugraph Krzysztof Martens as North doubled two spades, and that led to a contract of five clubs. Again, an initial heart lead is best — but few of us could resist leading a spade with the West hand. Marek Szymanowski won this and had to find the best way forward – on the reasonable assumption that trumps might split badly but that diamonds would not, since West had not led a singleton.

At the table, Szymanowski finessed in diamonds at trick two. Now if trumps had been 4-1 a trump return would have left him without the communications to get 11 tricks. Unlikely as it might seem, you are much better placed to take a spade ruff at trick two and then lead a low diamond from dummy. If East wins and forces you again, then ruff and play two rounds of trump overtaking in hand. Even if trumps are 4-1, you can still come home by playing four rounds of trumps to East, pitching dummy’s hearts.

A negative double promises four spades here (and unlike when you double one spade you rarely cheat here with three). So what are the options? A stopperless one no-trump response does not appeal, which leaves a club raise. With a choice between two hearts as a limit raise or better, or a two club call, I go high – albeit with misgivings.


♠ A 4 2
 7 3 2
 8 5 3
♣ A K 6 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♣ 1

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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


Mircea1October 3rd, 2017 at 10:15 pm

Hi Bobby,

1. Would you play the same way as indicated at matchpoints?

2. What would you change in the BWTA hand to double with 3 spades?

Bobby WolffOctober 3rd, 2017 at 11:42 pm

Hi Mircea1,

Yes, I would play the same way the column suggested at matchpoints. Since 5 clubs would not figure to be the normal contract in, but more likely, either 3NT or many varieties of part scores, 2NT, 3 or 4 clubs 3 or 4 diamonds or possibly defending against 2 or 3 spades by EW. Since NT would always make a bunch if the queen of diamonds is onside, but not if it wasn’t, might as well play 5 clubs the best way to make, and, as you can see, it will.

I’m assuming you mean if West opened 3 spades, I would still double with North, since the key ingredient, shortness in spades, is alive and well with him. No doubt, very light and only three cards in the other major, but seldom are close choices in bridge bidding, clear-cut.

Furthermore, while holding the South hand, and while playing matchpoints with favorable vulnerability I, holding a very likely 2 defensive tricks and possibly 3, pass and take my chances. 2nd choice 3NT.

High-level bridge seems to favor aggressive bidding, many referring to it as (a bidder’s game).