Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, December 14th, 2017

I don’t have pet peeves like some people. I have whole kennels of irritation.

Whoopi Goldberg

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


In this deal from my local club game, North was contemplating opening two clubs when he was irritated to hear West (playing with one of the less simpatico members of the club) open three diamonds in front of him.

That didn’t leave him much else to do but double and hope that partner did not insist on playing hearts. The worst happened when South bid and rebid hearts, and North had no option but to pass and pray.

West led out his two top diamonds and continued with the suit at trick three. Prospects were not good for declarer at this point, but ruffing low or discarding looked hopeless, so he ruffed the third heart with dummy’s queen and was over-ruffed with the king.

Suddenly South sensed light at the end of the tunnel. He won the club return in dummy and finessed the heart 10 successfully. When the remaining trumps fell under the ace, he was safely home.

North would not normally have done more than congratulate his partner, but given his opponents, he saw the opportunity to insert the needle, by remarking how unusual it was to have 28 HCP and no game makeable. When East remarked acerbically that South had made game, North smiled and said that just because game had made did not mean it should have. Do you see why?

If East discards on the heart queen and splits his honors on the first round of trumps, he ensures two trump tricks for his side and defeats the contract.

Brace yourself: This hand is an absolute minimum for a two-spade call, but you should still make that bid. Your ruffing value and honor in spades mean that you are offering partner something that will surely be useful while denying the opponents some space. So gird your loins and enter the fray!


♠ K 9 4
 7 6 5 2
♣ 9 8 7 6 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


David WarheitDecember 28th, 2017 at 9:17 am

27 HCP, not 28. Still…

Iain ClimieDecember 28th, 2017 at 9:58 am

Hi David,

True enough, but it’s the wind-up that counts. Whether it is wise to do so when your oppo may be distracted enough to mess up against the next NS pair(s) against whom we’re actually competing is perhaps debatable but I know one or two players who definitely deserve the treatment. Only one or two nowadays, mind you; I’ve gone tolerant in my later years.

Hi Bobby,

Also interesting in today’s decadent world that South had the discipline not to start off with a weak 2H. If he’d done so, should West weigh in with 3D opposite a passed partner or just wait his turn to lead?



A V Ramana RaoDecember 28th, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Hi dear Mr Wolff
Is four hearts by south justified? Perhaps he should have passed four club bid by north and in a lighter vein, east must be congratulated for finding the only defence allowing four hearts being made

Michael BeyroutiDecember 28th, 2017 at 1:15 pm

your post reminded me of the Quote of the day, 4 days ago:
“To me, chalking up a make on a likely down game hand is much more beautiful than a perfectly bid +130.”
Bobby Wolff
It is double the pleasure when done against “the less simpatico member of the club”.

bobbywolffDecember 28th, 2017 at 2:51 pm

Hi David,

Just because you can count up to 27+ doesn’t mean that 2 ten’s, worth 1/2 point each on the Richer scale, (a better guide, named partly to acknowledge rewards for intermediates, and partly to honor those really powerful hands without having to exaggerate), do not get their due, especially when needling an opponent. (however I conveniently left off the 3rd partly since it involved itself with a cover-up for arithmetic ineptitude).

bobbywolffDecember 28th, 2017 at 3:23 pm

Hi Iain,

If South opens a weak 2 heart bid, most West’s while desiring a diamond lead and also hoping for a miracle diamond fit need to act immediately or have a lesser chance to help partner choose his desired lead, should North become declarer.

However, more thoughtful West players who have already notified partner of his opening lead preference (and since this is a family site, we will not delve deeper) do not need to suffer the indignity of having to bid them.

After not hearing the diamond overcall, if North mistakenly just jumps in NT to either slam or just game, can’t you just imagine East, one of the miscreants, planning his excuse when he knows what is called for, but also knows how it might be received and then analyzed.

It would help if he had sleight of hand magician training so that he could make the diamond led, just appear to fall out of his hand. BTW, a story similar to this actually happened fairly recently in the sordid cheating scandal of not long ago, with the culprit, while leading the card he did, screamed out while he was doing it, in a manner which proclaimed total innocence, but just phenomenally good luck (to which, as is usual, so many goody goody observers not only fell victim but jumped to his defense).

Stupid naivety should be classified a deadly sin, with perhaps only involved mothers to get a pass. (proving mother need not be only part of a word)

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”

bobbywolffDecember 28th, 2017 at 3:35 pm


Good question, to which I can only reply, yes it can be justified if and when he makes that contract.

Faint heart never won close contract, should be a common expression, especially when aggressive or conservative judgment is on the table. Having said that I am a 4 heart bidder at IMPs or rubber bridge (over 4 clubs and at least, most of the time).

While, no doubt very aggressive, the bidding is not over with yet, meaning our opponents may now decide to take a 5 diamond sacrifice which will itself signal, that the 4 heart bidder has now won (assuming 5 diamonds is not a miracle make).

In bridge quite often what might be called the “border patrol” may come to the rescue of overbidders in the form of undisciplined opponents who are gullible to believe, “if they bid it they will make it”!

bobbywolffDecember 28th, 2017 at 3:39 pm

Hi Michael,

Oh yes, opponents who help their adversaries are always much in demand and certainly appreciated.

No doubt, it is unsporting to then needle their judgment, but oh so tempting to do so, when, as you suggested, they are usually insufferable to be around.