Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


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

Opening Lead:K

“I don’t like work — no man does — but I like what is in work — the chance to find yourself.”

— Joseph Conrad

One aspect of the game that distinguishes the serious player from the amateur is the amount of hard work that the expert puts in to every deal.

While it is not true that there is no such thing as an easy deal, most hands require the defenders to work out what declarer has shown in the bidding, and therefore what high cards partner has and what shape his hand is likely to be. Sometimes the exercise accomplishes nothing; but every time you make those calculations, it gets a little easier the next time.

Take today’s deal, for example. Sitting West, you lead a top club against four hearts and see an encouraging high spot-card from partner. A decent partner would have a singleton so you could give him a ruff, but no, on the second round of clubs everyone follows suit as declarer produces the queen. What next?

One possibility would be to cash two diamonds tricks before declarer discards a diamond loser on the club jack. You cash the diamond ace, see partner encourage violently and …

Wait one cotton-picking minute. What shape has declarer shown? He will be 6-4 in the majors unless he has taken leave of his senses. So the chance that the second diamond will stand up is approximately zero. Instead, play partner for a card he is reasonably likely to hold, namely the heart jack. Lead a third club and let partner ruff with his trump jack for the setting trick.

ANSWER: Your partner’s pass is forcing. After the redouble your side cannot sell out undoubled to the opponents in a low-level contract. You have a minimum balanced hand, unsuitable for defending against hearts. The practical call to make is one no-trump, showing the nature of your hand. The absence of a real heart stop is truly irrelevant; the opponents will not be running the hearts against you, given this auction.


South Holds:

9 6 5
Q 4
A 10 2
A K 8 7 5


South West North East
1 Dbl. Rdbl. Pass
Pass 1 Pass 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