Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 26, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: N/S

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


South West North East
1♣* Pass 1♠** Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass
3 Pass 4 Pass
5 NT Pass 6 Pass
6 All Pass    
*17-plus, any shape
**One ace and a king, or three kings

Opening Lead:Q

“Young ladies should take care of themselves. Young ladies are delicate plants. They should take care of their health and their complexion.”

— Jane Austen

Alphonse “Sonny” Moyse was a great advocator of playing in 4-3 fits. He may have gone overboard in espousing it, but it is true that players tend to shy away automatically from such a fit without giving enough consideration to its merits.


This Moysian fit, from the 1972 Vanderbilt semifinal, demonstrates that the key is frequently the possession of good trump intermediates.


In one room South played the apparently normal contract of six no-trump. Even on a helpful club lead, declarer was not well placed. He could do little except pass the heart jack at trick two, because of the lack of entries to dummy. When that lost and the spades were unfriendly, he had to go one down.


In the other room my teammate Jim Jacoby played six hearts on the lead of the diamond queen to his king. He took the spade ace-king and ruffed a spade low. Then came the diamond ace (on which a club was thrown), and the club ace-king. Now, when everyone followed, his slam was cold against any lie of the cards.


He played a third spade and could ruff with the heart king for safety if West followed suit. Then he could ruff a club with the trump ace and ruff another spade with the heart nine. Since he held the J-10-8 of trumps in hand, he was sure to take three of the last four tricks against any defense.

ANSWER: Although you have no serious prospects of buying the contract, the best thing to do is to reraise to three diamonds. This is NOT a game-try. If you had extras, you would bid a new suit, so this is a bar bid, just trying to block the opponents and take away their bidding space.


South Holds:

K 9 4
A 9 8 7 6 5
J 9 7


South West North East
    Pass 1






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


DarinTJuly 10th, 2009 at 9:53 pm

It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but on the bidding problem facing a passed hand I would be tempted to overcall two diamonds directly over one club. Obviously it would depend on the vulnerability and form of scoring, but forcing the opponents to use their negative doubles at the two level is often profitable.

Bobby WolffJuly 11th, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Hi DarinT,

Perhaps you will be happy to know that I agree with you 100%.

My suggestion as to the bridge philosophy that should be adopted is simply the higher one bids (assessing the risk) the less bidding space now available to the opponents is assured. There is no way to assess exactly how that will benefit the defensive preemptors. but rest assured, just as my home town of Las Vegas has acquired great gambling riches, the law of averages will be working for you, not against. When the opponents are denied enough bidding room to explore various final contracts, that lack of information will work to the advantage of the defense.

Larry Cohen and his great book on the Law of Total Tricks has let all bridge players know (who are not otherwise brainwashed) that bridge, as we know it, is a bidder’s game, and the ability to name trumps has great and underestimated advantages. However, if one waits for total safety before he enters the bidding, he will be left at the post by others who are bolder.

“Bid and the winning comes naturally, pass and the opponents will smile.” After all, to win fair maiden, one has to first ask her out!”

Thanks for writing and introducing this important subject.

David WarheitOctober 3rd, 2009 at 3:53 am

On the June 26th hand: South can actually make 6NT. The opening lead implies diamond length with W. South then needs to place the spade queen with E. The position of the heart queen is something of a guess, but he should go with E, since the diamond situation means more room in the E hand. So: win the opening lead, lead the heart jack to dummy’s king, cash the diamond ace, discarding the club 10, lead the heart 9 for a finesse, repeat the finesse, and play spades from the top down. When E wins his queen, he has no diamonds, and S’s hand is high. Making 6!