Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination. Once begun upon this downward path, you never know where you are to stop.

Thomas de Quincey

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

*Constructive spade raise


When you pick up an 11-count with honors in your long suits, it presents the dilemma of whether to pass or to open.

Today’s deal comes from a recent Australian event, and it illustrates the advantage of getting busy in the bidding at an early stage. Opening can backfire if your partner takes you too seriously or if the opponents buy the contract. But sometimes by not opening, your partnership can be effectively shut out of the auction. Let’s look at what happened at two tables.

In one room, Tony Burke sat North. He judged well to sacrifice in four spades when his partner had passed over four hearts — you can judge for yourself whether South’s decision was well conceived. Four spades went one down, while East/West could have made four hearts without a problem, losing just two diamonds and a trump.

By contrast, at the table where East passed, Tony Nunn — one of Australia’s most talented players — opened the South hand two spades, and North raised to game, thereby winning the battle. But could he win the war?

Four spades seems to be one top trick short, but Nunn pulled off a bit of daylight robbery. He won the diamond lead in dummy, then led the club queen to the two, nine and ace. After winning the diamond return in dummy, Nunn led the club three. An unsuspecting East played low since, after all, Nunn’s nine had all the hallmarks of a singleton — and the six won the trick!

The auction has turned your hand to dust and ashes. When your partner rebids his suit, he suggests a minimum opener with six or more hearts and implicitly no game interest unless you have undisclosed extras. You do not, so pass. If your spade queen were the heart queen, you would at least invite game in hearts.


♠ Q 9 7
 A K 5 2
♣ Q J 8 7 3
South West North East
    1 Dbl.
Rdbl. 1 ♠ 2 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact