Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dealer: West

Vul: None

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


South West North East
  1 NT* Pass 5
5 All Pass    
*10 – 12 points

Opening Lead:K

“I am not influenced by the expectation of promotion or pecuniary reward. I wish to be useful, and every kind of service necessary for the public good becomes honorable by being necessary.”

— Nathan Hale

Today’s hand comes from the 2006 McConnell Cup, the women’s world teams championship, and it produced a wide variety of results — hardly unexpected, given the wild distribution. Here’s what happened at the table where two of the victorious team, Carlin Steiner and Marinesa Letizia, were defending.


After Steiner opened the bidding to show a balanced minimum hand, East exerted maximum pressure by jumping to five diamonds. South was fixed: a double would have been for penalties; and she could not show her two-suiter without committing the partnership to slam. So she simply bid five hearts, which was passed out.


Carlin Steiner had no difficulty with her first two leads. She cashed her two top clubs, East signaling her doubleton. But how to proceed at trick three? She expected South to be void in diamonds, given Letizia’s majestic leap to the five-level. So she played for her partner to hold the one card that would lead to a trump promotion — the heart seven — and returned the club five.


“Don’t send a boy to do a man’s job” is a well-known bridge maxim, and Letizia accurately ruffed dummy’s club eight with the heart seven. South was forced to overruff, and Steiner had her trump promotion for a one-trick set.


Note the damage caused by East’s high-level pre-empt. Five spades cannot be touched, and you can imagine how some people might allow a spade slam to make if it were declared by North.

ANSWER: If you decide (as I would) to commit this hand to game in spades, as a two-way shot you might want to have a conventional way to distinguish between a hand like this — which has a modicum of defense — and a purely pre-emptive raise to game. If so, maybe you should set aside the jump response of three no-trump to show this hand. Bid four spades without one of the two kings.


South Holds:

K J 10 4 3
8 5
K 5
J 8 4 3


South West North East
    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