Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 8, 2009



Vul: Both

A J 10 5 3
Q 9 8
8 5 4
10 8
West East
8 6 K Q 7 2
K 10 7 6 2 5 4 3
10 6 K 7 2
9 6 3 2 K Q 7
9 4
A Q J 9 3
A J 5 4


South West North East
  Pass Pass 1
1NT Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 2NT Pass
3NT All Pass    

Opening Lead: 6

“The best that an individual can do is to concentrate on what he or she can do, in the course of a burning effort to do it better.”

— Elizabeth Bowen

In the World Junior Championships of 1999, the match between Israel and USA-2 appeared to have scuppered the former’s chances of qualifying, although in fact they made it to the semifinals when Chinese Taipei was disqualified for fielding an overage player. Chris Willenken of the American team found a nice play here to pick up a game swing.

Both tables declared three no-trump from the South seat on a transfer auction after East had opened one club and both Wests untrustingly led a heart rather than a club. The Israeli declarer tried to maximize his chances in hearts by ducking in dummy and winning the heart cheaply in hand. Then he used his spade-ace entry to table to finesse diamonds, and pressed on with that suit. But East could win his diamond king to set up West’s hearts. The defenders now had plenty of ways to regain the lead, and East still had a heart left to reach his partner to set the hand one trick.

By contrast, at his table Chris Willenken as South focused correctly on the problem of entries to dummy. He was prepared to sacrifice the slim chance of an extra heart trick to maximize his chances of getting to dummy twice. He put up the heart queen at the first trick, and when it held, he now had two entries to dummy to play diamonds for five tricks. That was enough for the contract.

ANSWER: Your partner’s call is natural — but he was not good enough to bid one spade the first time. I’d assume he has six spades and a hand unsuitable for a weak jump response. That being so, there is no reason to consider bidding on. No game contract can have any sort of play, and spades looks a decent spot. So pass, happily.


South Holds:

9 4
A Q J 9 3
A J 5 4


South West North East
1 1 Pass Pass
2 2 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 2009. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact