Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 10, 2009



Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
1 1 3 4
4 All pass    

Opening Lead: A

“All men whilst they are awake are in one common world; but each of them, when he is asleep, is in a world of his own.”

— Plutarch

One of the signals that experts use very occasionally is called the oddball, or alarm clock. The idea is that the sacrifice of a high honor is used to wake up partner to the idea of an unusual switch, frequently to obtain a ruff.

In the deal that follows from the 1999 World Junior Championships, East and West managed precisely that feat, in a situation where, in the absence of such methods, the defense would have been almost impossible to find.

Although five diamonds was laydown for East-West, it was very difficult for East to appreciate this after his partner had overcalled in spades — suggesting to him that the partnership assets might be better on defense than offense. Perhaps West has to bid five diamonds at his second turn.

Still, at least one pair managed to find the right defense to their opponents’ heart game. Juan Carlos Castilla and Juanita Ochoa were the pair defending the game. Ochoa followed with the diamond queen under her partner’s lead of the diamond ace against four hearts, denying the king and suggesting that her partner wake up to do something unusual. A discouraging card would have led to the club shift, of course, but Juan Carlos dutifully played a spade for down one. Well done!

Incidentally, there are several events hosted by the United States this year, specifically for juniors. The Youth Nationals take place in Washington on July 30 to August 1. See details at

ANSWER: Your partner’s redouble is SOS — help, get me out of here! With a pronounced preference for clubs over diamonds, just bid two clubs and hope to escape, if not without damage, then with a flesh wound rather than a mortal one. With the clubs and hearts switched, you might try one no-trump.


South Holds:

K 8 7 5 2
8 6 5
A 5
K J 5


South West North East
1 Pass Pass Dbl
Pass Pass Rdbl 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