Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dealer: North

Vul: Both

K Q 9 3
A 9 6 5
K 8 3
10 8
West East
10 6 2 7 5
Q 7 3 10 4 2
10 9 7 6 4 A 5
A 6 K Q 7 5 4 3
A J 8 4
K J 8
Q J 2
J 9 2
West North East South
1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 4
All Pass

Opening Lead: ♣A

“Some men a forward motion love,

But I by backward steps would move.”

— Henry Vaughan

Twenty-four teams were invited to play in the 20th Bonn Nations Cup. Joining in was John Carruthers of Canada — to whom I am indebted for this hand – who formed a partnership with the Swedish international P.O. Sundelin. The journalist team proved to be an exception to the bridge rule that those who can do, those who can’t, write.

Against four spades, West found the useful lead of the club ace and, encouraged by East’s signal, continued the suit. After a third club was ruffed in dummy, Sundelin drew trumps in three rounds, then led the diamond jack. He was surprised to see East capturing this with the ace. Because modern players usually strain every sinew to get into the action, failing to overcall with a six-card suit headed by the K-Q plus an outside ace is a rarity.

East passively returned a club, which took out Sundelin’s last trump. Declarer now cashed the king and queen of diamonds. When East showed out, his original 2-3-2-6 shape was revealed.

Surely East would have entered the bidding if he held the queen of hearts in addition to his other assets. Sundelin certainly thought so, and thus ruled out taking the straightforward finesse of the heart jack. Instead, he led out the heart jack. West covered, dummy’s ace won, then a backwards finesse of the heart eight gave declarer his game.

ANSWER: Although this is more a matter of style, I do not think it is appropriate to compete in these auctions without extra values or extra shape. You have shown what you have (if you believe, as I do, that takeout doubles promise appropriate shape and high cards), so it is up to partner to bid again with a fifth heart or extras.


South Holds:

K Q 9 3
A 9 6 5
K 8 3
10 8
West North East South
Pass 1 Dbl.
2 2 3 ?

If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, feel free to leave comments at this blog. This column is reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc. Copyright 2009.


MarthaMarch 26th, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Well, Good Morning Bobby,

How refreshing to be able and share my morning coffee with an ACE. Great column and equally great to find it, just waiting for me to get up and turn on my computer, wherever in the world I might find my self.

Mario DixMarch 27th, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Hi Bobby,

congrats on some lovely thoughts, of course, and delighted that you now have yr blog. Onthe Sally hand, you should correct to aHeart at trick 3 (since 2 tricks already played). Yr proof leader, or Sally maybe, should be spanked!!

Kindest regards,

Mario Dix,,,Malta

RobainiMarch 29th, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Hello Bobby, My partner opens 1 heart i resp 1n t he now bids 2 clubs and as I have support for clubs and only 7 pts I passed to be told later he was forcing Why didnt he jump the bidding with 18 pts in his hand For me his rebid was weak? Is he correct? This happened on BB

Bobby WolffMarch 30th, 2009 at 2:55 am

Hi Robaini,

No, he was incorrect. However, I would prefer seeing his hand before making a pronouncement. If he had 18 points or probably even 17 he should prefer a raise to 2 NT (with a balanced or semi-balanced hand) and with that same point count but more trick taking capacity possibly even either jump to 3NT or do as you suggest, jump to 3 clubs.

RobainiMarch 31st, 2009 at 10:07 am

Thank you Bobby for your quick reply, I appreciate it. Am only new to your site.

SWARNENDUMarch 31st, 2009 at 1:38 pm

hi bobby this is swarnendu from india.i have a problem for u.i held JXX AX XXX 109XXX auction went






Bobby WolffApril 1st, 2009 at 5:10 am

Hi Swarnendu,

4 Diamonds is the teamly bid, which hands it back to partner to choose between 4 hearts and 5 clubs. 5 Clubs probably would be my choice, although it is too close to call. The biggest factor in favor of your choice, 4 diamonds, is that if partner is wrong in whatever he chooses, everyone will blame him, not me.

It does remind me a little of a famous French act featuring Alphonse and Gaston, where each one is so deferential to the other that nothing gets accomplished.

Whatever I think, would not stop you from getting 100 on most bidding panels.

Sue KroningApril 2nd, 2009 at 7:39 am

Hi Bobby,

We get your daily column in the Portland newspaper, the Oregonian and love it. How wonderful that it’s also now online!


Bobby WolffApril 2nd, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Hi Sue,

Thanks for the wonderful words about enjoying the column. Players like you make my tasks so much more worthwhile.

We appreciate your writing.


NickApril 21st, 2011 at 1:37 am

Hi Bobby,

I have collected your Bridge columns since April 6, 2009.

Why don’t you get a longer history: suppose that the earliest was March 11, 2009. I may want you to create an older history; a day, for example: March 10, 2009 and earlier. If you can’t do this, then I would be frustrated.

In today’s deal, from a 20th Bonn Nations Cup, ended up in four spades with the lead of the club ace.

As South you hold AJxx, KJx, QJx, J9x. Would you drive out opponent trumps?

NickApril 21st, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Hi Bobby,

The comment I sent you, must not be in the Sunday papers for your column.

RyanApril 30th, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Playing a weak no-trump Acol style North would normally open 1NT. If East doesn’t butt in with 2 clubs I wonder whether South should Stayman before placing the contract ? Many wouldn’t given their hand is so flat, but this deal highlights the other important reason for prefering a 4-4 trump fit : control.

Incidentally, using Ron Klinger’s Banzai Points for evaluating a flat hand North doesn’t actually have enough for a weak NT opening. Following a pass by North and East, South would open 1NT and with North bidding 2 clubs Stayman in response the contract of 4 spades should be easily found.