Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: None

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


South West North East
1 Pass 1 NT* Pass
2 Pass 3 All Pass
*Forcing for one round

Opening Lead:8

“If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.”

— Douglas Adams

Today’s deal, from last year’s Fall Nationals, shows a disadvantage of the forcing no-trump response. North would like to respond with a nonforcing no-trump and play there. Indeed, if West makes the quite reasonable decision to double in the balancing seat, North would get to play one no-trump redoubled!


At the table, though, South was obligated to introduce his three-card diamond suit and North had too much to pass, so South was left in a very delicate spot. Against three diamonds, West led the trump eight. Declarer won in dummy and played a club to the queen and ace. Back came a second trump, and declarer, in dummy again, led another club. It looks natural for East to win and shift to a heart, but declarer can take two hearts, four diamonds and three clubs for plus 110.


After East wins the second club, a spade shift is better. West can win cheaply and exit with a club. Declarer will have to concede the last two tricks for one down.


Even better, though, was for East to duck the second club, the play found at the table. Declarer gets a cheap club trick, but is stuck in the wrong hand. Declarer drew a third round of trumps and took a heart finesse. West won the heart king, played a club to East’s king for a spade through, and exited with a heart. Declarer was held to one club trick, four diamonds and two hearts for two down.

ANSWER: You showed a limit-raise or better in spades, following which North’s four-club bid showed short clubs and a slam-try. You now have more than enough to bid four hearts, showing a heart control and denying a diamond control. The question is whether you have enough to bid on if partner signs off in four spades. I think not — but it is close.


South Holds:

K 10 7 5 3
7 6 2


South West North East
    1 2
3 Dbl. 4 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