Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: None

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


South West North East
Pass 1 Dbl. 3*
3 All Pass    
*Pre-emptive raise of hearts

Opening Lead:K

“For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

— Alexander Pope

Defense has sometimes been described as the art of the possible. When you are playing teams or rubber bridge, overtricks tend to be irrelevant. You should try to picture a hand that will let you defeat the contract, and then go for it, no matter how unlikely it is.


Conversely, if you think you can set a contract easily, you should concentrate on covering the bases, defeating the contract even when declarer has a better or different hand than his expected one.


Defending today’s three spades, you lead the heart king and partner’s signal tells you he has four hearts. (It is a good idea to use count signals on the lead of a king in a bid and supported suit.) Should you cash a second top heart? Yes — declarer may (and today he will) pitch his second heart on a high club if you don’t take it at once.


It should then be apparent that three spades can be defeated only if East holds the spade ace or diamond ace. He cannot hold more than that for his pre-emptive raise — with as much as a limit raise, East would have jumped to two no-trump.


Thus, West should shift to his diamond jack at trick three. Careful defense from this point on, with West winning the first round of spades (and East steeling himself to duck his ace if a trump is led from dummy), will result in a diamond ruff from West to beat the contract.

ANSWER: Your diamond rebid showed 12-14 and your second minor. (This sequence is not a reverse.) When partner invites game, you are certainly not minimum — but how to advance? The best way is to bid three spades, suggesting only three, since you would have bid the suit on the previous round with four. Let partner pick a game or partscore now.


South Holds:

Q J 7
3 2
K Q 5 2
A Q 10 7


South West North East
1 1 Dbl. Pass
2 Pass 3 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


Bob NJuly 24th, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Mr. Wolff,

Would appreciate it if you could explain why S’s sequence isn’t a reverse. (I would have opened 1D to avoid the reverse.)

Bobby WolffJuly 25th, 2009 at 3:03 am

Hi Bob N,

I would also have opened 1 diamond instead of 1 club in order to bid more fluidly in case that situation presents itself.

South’s sequence is not a reverse since partner made a negative double and his partner is licensed and encouraged to bid one of the unbid suits. However, I must agree with you that as North I would assume that my partner had 4 diamonds, but therefore 5 clubs, and with 3 in each suit I would mistakenly return to 3 clubs. Here North has good support for diamonds and is making a game invitational raise to 3 diamonds. Although South does not have much extra he does accept an invitation to bid once more and when he does, the 3 spade bid is probably the most descriptive since it only shows 3 since he didn’t bid spades earlier.

Just like a prize fight, there appears to be a lot of pushing going on.