Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 31st, 2018

War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.

Ambrose Bierce

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


This board from the quarterfinals of the World Championships in Lyon turned out to be a fine battle between declarer and the defense.

Against four spades, Jacek Pszczola (Pepsi) cashed two top diamonds and wisely did not play a third, as declarer Mikael Rimstedt would have set up his clubs. Instead, he switched to the spade 10. Rimstedt covered this with dummy’s jack, drawing the king and ace. West now held the sole guards in both spades and clubs.

Next, declarer played the king and queen of trump, ruffed his diamond loser with the heart ace and ran the remaining trumps. To retain his club honors, West had to reduce to just one spade. If he kept his spade nine, he would be thrown in with a spade to lead away from the club king. If he discarded his high spade, South’s spade eight would be good. Either way, declarer had his 10 tricks.

After two rounds of diamonds, West needed to switch specifically to the spade queen, so that East would be able to guard the suit with his king.

In the other room, Frederick Nystrom led the diamond ace and, realizing that he would have to open up spades sooner or later, found the necessary switch to a spade intermediate at trick two.

When declarer Joe Grue allowed this to win, West cashed the diamond queen, then played the spade six to the seven and ace. Declarer eventually had to surrender a club and a spade trick for one down, and Sweden had a well-earned game swing.

A simple raise to four hearts looks right here, given your weak spades, but a four-club call as a cue-bid agreeing one of partner’s suits is not unreasonable. If partner is interested in slam, he can always ask for aces.


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


Ken MooreSeptember 14th, 2018 at 7:45 pm


I have seen a pattern in bidding that does not make sense, including today. How can North justify his spade bid of 3 Spades? He does not have a Spade suit so it must mean something else.

Another example (from 02/08/2010) is where the bidding is South – 1NT; East – 2 Clubs; North 3 Clubs with South holding the following: S – K 8 6 5 4; H – Q 8 5 4; D – A j; C – Q 7.

What’s up bidding these non-suits?

Bobby WolffSeptember 15th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Hi Ken,

In both instances, today’s 3 spade bid and far back in February of 2010, the 3 club bid are both what are called cue bids.

They both are intended to be artificial (bidding the opponent’s suit) to both tell partner that he wants specific information from him (how good is his hand once he has already shown a real positive with his overcall in one (today) and an opening 1NT (15-17 hcps and a balanced hand) in 2010.

Today he has a bit more than just a raise to 4 hearts (holding 2 aces and trump support (with only two of those 3 assets he should merely raise to an immediate 4 hearts but with all 3, then he should inform partner that his raise is very sound and if, in addition, partner has more than he might possess, he should proceed on to examine a possible small slam.

With the 3 club bid (it should be West, not East who intervened with a natural 2 club overcall), the responder was searching for a major suit fit having 5-4 in those suits, so he, also, bid an artificial 3 clubs (his opponent’s suit) to ask partner whether he had a major suit fit.

By doing so it is making full use of all bids in order to show different types of reasonable hands, while asking very pertinent questions of partner. Such is good bridge which continues to evolve after the discovery way back in 1927 of the game we all love, Contract Bridge, by Harold Vanderbilt.

Such learning is the heart and soul of the best card game of all time (I think the best competitive mind game of all time, period!). Today’s lesson is merely a building block in what can be accomplished by a bridge partnership who need to bid in code language to show different holdings and allow that partnership to at least attempt to reach the best final contract.

It seems complicated, and it is, until the pieces start blending together between partners, until eventually, if not sooner, a very good partnership can be established between the two.

Get deeper into it and with your no doubt, keen mind, will have no trouble adjusting and be on the fast track on your way to a lifetime of enjoyment from out of nowhere.

Your memory and posts are excellent indications that your mind will quickly pick up what so many of us have spent so much time enjoying. WELCOME TO OUR WORLD and feel enabled to ask as many on point questions as you feel necessary. However, you also might
consider calling a local bridge club and ask how they handle bridge instruction, if, in fact, it fits your current schedule.

Best of luck in your hopefully fairly new venture.

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