Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 1, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
5 Dbl. All Pass  

Opening Lead:K

“A society so riven that the spirit of moderation is gone, no court can save.”

— Judge Learned Hand

When this deal occurred in the European Open Tournament in Menton, the South players were split between opening three clubs, four clubs and five clubs. Where the opening bid was five clubs, West doubled and East sat it out, collecting 200.

By contrast, after a three-club opening, West could double, bid three hearts, or bid three no-trump. There is a lot to be said for the winning action of three no-trump because the pre-emptive opening has warned about poor breaks, and here West has very soft values.

But the sure winner, as an opening bid, was four clubs. West had little choice but to double. As this double is usually more takeout oriented than a double of a five-level contract, all the Easts bid four spades. This resulted in 500 in the other direction.

Had the East players passed the double, they would have scored even worse, since four clubs would have scored plus 710 for North-South, but only if South was careful. On a top-heart lead, South wins and must ruff a spade rather than a heart to hand, then lead out the club queen (just in case there is a bare jack). Now declarer can ruff another major-suit card to hand to draw trump, losing just two clubs and a diamond. Note that if South ruffs a heart to hand at trick two, West can win the first trump and lead a third heart to score his side’s remaining trumps separately.

ANSWER: Which did you open with, one heart or one no-trump? It is a fair rule of hand valuation to treat a five-card suit as worth an extra point. On that basis this hand might equate to an 18-count and be worth a one-heart bid. But the hand has two significant negatives: there are no intermediates in the long-suit, and the doubleton club honors are not pulling their full weight. That puts you back to a one-no-trump bid.


South Holds:

Q 8 6
K Q 7 6 2
A Q 9


South West North East


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