Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

I will not be a common man. I will stir the smooth sands of monotony. I do not crave security. I wish to hazard my soul to opportunity.

Peter O’Toole

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


The German ladies won the women’s world championship in 2001 after a stunning come-from-behind victory against France. But this deal was from their quarter-final victory over USA.

In one room Jill Meyers declared three no-trump and Sabine Auken led a top diamond. Meyers ducked this, won the next diamond, and played the heart king out of her hand, hoping East had one of the top heart honors. A good try, but declarer still had to go down one.

Meanwhile in the other room Andrea Rauscheid declared four hearts. She won the diamond lead and played to ruff a diamond in dummy, then finessed the heart jack.

Irina Levitina won the queen and shifted to spades. Declarer won in hand and exited with a low heart, letting Levitina hop up with her ace, to play a second spade. Rauscheid took this and cut loose with a third spade. What was the defense to do? If East, Lynn Baker, won the trick, a ruff and discard would let Rauscheid pitch a club from hand, while a club lead would obviously be fatal.

So Levitina correctly ruffed her partner’s spade winner. But now, since a diamond would concede a ruff and discard, the best she could do was to lead a low club. Accurately defended, but Rauscheid had been given a minute extra chance in clubs, and she took it, by putting in the eight. That extra chance turned out to be relevant today, since Baker had to play the queen, and the club jack was declarer’s 10th trick.

Your partner’s four club bid should not be a cuebid but instead in a competitive auction it should show the black suits. That gives you an easy four spade call, since all your values are in the right place. Despite your heart length you do not have a defensive trick in that suit. If necessary, you might even contemplate bidding on to five spades.


♠ K 9 3
 10 6 4 2
 7 5
♣ K J 8 6
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♠ Pass
2 ♠ 3 4 ♣ 4

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 karlsonNovember 1st, 2017 at 1:07 pm

What is the thought on 3nt or 4 h? I usually look at flat hands with a 4 cd major supported or not as better suited for nt. No ruffing power and could easily have 10 tricks at the jump. That makes it an easy decision at pairs. Would look a bit harder in teams.

bobbywolffNovember 1st, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Hi Bruce,

While not commenting yea or nay on your overall view of deciding between game in NT or a possible 8 card fit (usually 4-4) in a major, the hand today does lend itself to the major suit game.

However and no doubt, that decision is close since even today with diamonds being the weak link for NT, if North had been declarer and receiving a spade lead, 3NT would have fared better.

However supporting your view with, of course, pair scoring in NT and I will not accept the gauntlet of disagreeing, namely because I would be just guessing.

Finally, through the years and for what it is worth, my tendencies have been for most of that time, the definition of balanced takes on a strict theme so that with any perfectly balanced hand, triple three, four in major, I choose NT from the beginning and let dame fortune decide. However while holding a doubleton, even a reasonably strong one, eg even AJ, I seek the safety of the eight card major suit fit, in spite of the expense of informing my worthy opponents of additional defensive knowledge (including choice of opening lead, which sometimes critically serves to sink my ship).

Furthermore with computer simulation, perhaps close to 50 years ago (when computers seemed to first become accessible), it was clear that the eight card major suit fits won the theoretical battle (perhaps 65-35), but it was impossible, at least at that time, to figure in the percentage advantage the additional bidding disclosure gave the experienced defenders.

Much thanks for your provocative question.