Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 29, 2009

Dealer: West

Vul: N/S

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


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

Opening Lead:8

“He hears

On all sides, from innumerable tongues,

A dismal universal hiss, the sound

Of public scorn.”

— John Milton

The players at the Dyspeptics Club are united by a common lack of respect for one another’s game. East in particular has been known to speculate that West got into the gene pool while the lifeguard was not watching. But he got his comeuppance in today’s deal.


After East opened a tactical strong no-trump, South elected to overcall in spades, and subsequently was not going to let the chance of a vulnerable game escape him.


West led his singleton diamond, which East won with the ace to return the suit-preference two, ruffed by West. A club to East’s ace saw the diamond queen ruffed by declarer’s ace. What should West discard?


Had West discarded a club, declarer would have cashed the club queen, ruffed a club with the spade nine, played a spade back to his ace, and ruffed another club with the spade king. Now all that remained was for declarer to cash the heart ace, ruff a heart back to hand, and draw trumps. The clubs would all be good.


It is no better if West discards a heart, because declarer changes tack and ruffs two hearts in hand to set up that suit.


However, West found the right defense when he underruffed the spade ace. (It spoiled the performance a little when he tried to gather in the trick, thinking South had ruffed low.) Declarer now did not have the entries to set up dummy’s hearts, and he could not ruff three clubs in the dummy without letting East score his lowly spade five.

ANSWER: Your partner’s call is encouraging but not forcing, and you have a minimum hand, but you should still raise to two spades. Since you have stronger bids available, this is more of a courtesy raise than a real game-try, and its purpose is almost as much to keep the opponents out as it is to invite game.


South Holds:

K 9 4
A 10 7 5 3
10 7 5 4


South West North East
1 Pass 1 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