Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 22nd, 2017

‘I’m word famous,’ Dr. Parks said ‘all over Canada.’

Mordecai Richler

N North
None ♠ Q 8 7
 9 7 5
 A J 9 3
♣ A Q 2
West East
♠ 10 4
 J 4 3 2
 Q 7 5
♣ 10 8 7 6
♠ A 9 5 3
 K Q 10 8 6
♣ K J 3
♠ K J 6 2
 K 10 8 4 2
♣ 9 5 4
South West North East
    1 NT 2 ♣ *
3 ** Pass 4 Pass
5 All pass    


**short hearts both minors


All our deals this week come from 20 years ago, when the World championships were played in Rhodes. Today’s deal comes from a qualifying match featuring Fred Gitelman of Canada, better known these days as the face of BBO, the most popular site for playing bridge on the Internet.

Gitelman reached five diamonds from the South seat after East had suggested a decent hand with both majors over North’s weak no-trump. As an aside, it makes sense to keep your normal system in place after an intervention of two clubs, with double being Stayman and keeping the red suits as transfers. But when the call of two clubs shows the majors, double to show a good hand and use two diamonds as natural. Meanwhile, jumps in the majors should show shortage with both minors and game-forcing values.

In five diamonds declarer took the opening heart lead in hand, and led a spade to the queen and the ace (it might have been more interesting had East ducked this smoothly).

Back came a heart, so Gitelman ruffed, took the diamond king then guessed correctly to finesse in diamonds, on the theory that East apparently had at least nine cards in the majors, while West had at most six. Next, the spade king dropped the 10, and Fred guessed right again by going to dummy to draw the last trump, then taking the spade finesse against the nine.

Now he could ruff the last heart, cash his spade winner to throw a club away, and try the club finesse for an overtrick.

This is a penalty double not a responsive double. Clearly West is playing a little joke with heart support, and the issue is whether to pass and bid spades later or raise spades at once. With so little defense to hearts and a good if minimum hand for spades, I think a raise to two spades ensures we get our message across in good time.


♠ K J 6 2
 K 10 8 4 2
♣ 9 5 4
South West North East
Dbl. 1 ♠ Dbl. 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


David WarheitOctober 6th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Mr. Richler was world-famous, and not just in his native Canada. If you don’t believe me, just ask Duddy Kravitz.

bobby wolffOctober 6th, 2017 at 3:56 pm

Hi David,

Yes, I am embarrassed for not giving an “L”. To make it worse I do not know, nor heard of, “Duddy Kravitz”.

Finally, to be “word” famous might be more impressive than “world”, especially when you already have the good fortune to live in Canada.

In any event, please “forgive” and thank you for all three, the word, the person, the author, and the person to ask. PS: my numeracy only applies to bridge.

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 6th, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Thanks, David. I am not much of a reader but after your brief remark, researched Mr. Richler. I was fascinated beyond words and savored the accounting of his background, lifestyle and accomplishments!

slarOctober 6th, 2017 at 8:37 pm

These situations where the opponents bid a major after a takeout double are a pain. Even if the suit is 4-4-4-1, declarer can often scramble for 5 tricks when 3NT is making.

bobby wolffOctober 6th, 2017 at 11:41 pm

Hi Slar,

My experience has convinced me that worthy opponents tend to psyche against new partnerships or very inexperienced (in their opinion) players. Petty psyches, in the old days common, have gone out with the morning milk man, once both partnerships know and respect each other.