Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dealer: West

Vul: N/S

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


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

Opening Lead: You decide!

“For I’m not so old and not so plain,

And I’m quite prepared to marry again.”

— W.S. Gilbert

Everybody took a sensible view in the auction on this deal from the quarterfinals of the Mind Sports Games in Beijing last year. Both Souths felt obligated to double two hearts for takeout, and thus both got their side to a reasonable three diamonds, which was threatened by the 4-1 trump break.


The key to the deal, though, turned out to be the opening lead. For the United States, Marinesa Letizia led the heart nine, which clarified her holding and, slightly fortuitously, forced declarer to cover. South ruffed East’s high heart return and immediately played three rounds of clubs. Letizia won and led a third heart. Declarer ruffed and was down to four trumps only. She played three rounds of trump, letting Letizia win and underled her spade ace. Declarer misguessed by playing low from dummy. Mildred Breed scored her queen, whereupon the fourth heart promoted an extra trump trick for the defense for down two.


By contrast, in the other room West led the heart three to the four and East’s jack. Now the defenders could continue hearts but risked eventually setting up a heart in dummy. So East shifted to a trump to the jack and queen. That let West lead a second heart to start reducing declarer’s trumps, but she had lost a vital tempo.


Declarer, Janice Seamon-Molson, simply tested clubs, ruffed the heart return, drew trumps, and eventually led a spade toward the king. She could not be prevented from scoring her spade king for the ninth trick.

ANSWER: This hand is just worth an invitational sequence, but a cue-bid followed by a raise of partner’s major gets you to the three-level, which is higher than you might like. The options are to bid one spade (an underbid), then bid hearts in competition, or to jump to two hearts, temporarily losing the spades. I prefer the most aggressive approach — the cue-bid.


South Holds:

K 9 7 2
Q 10 5 2
8 2
A 5 3


South West North East
  1 Dbl. 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