Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dealer: East

Vul: N/S

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


South West North East
Pass 2* Dbl. 2
3 NT All Pass    
*Weak-two in hearts or spades

Opening Lead:7

“Which came out of the opened door — the lady or the tiger?”

— Richard Stockton

At the finals of the World Championships in Beijing, the ladies from England won their first-ever world title, beating the hosts, China. The following deal arose very early in the match and set the tone for the early encounters.


When the Chinese were East-West, the English sold out to three hearts, and the incisive trump lead led to a penalty of 150. That was good, but was it enough?


In the other room, when North doubled the artificial two-diamond opening to show a semibalanced 13-16 points, South jumped to the most practical game (three no-trump).


West led the heart seven to dummy’s king. With some good guesses, 11 tricks can be made, but when declarer started with a club to the queen, Heather Dhondy as West made the critical play when she ducked. Naturally, declarer took the club finesse of the jack next, allowing East to win cheaply. East now played the spade king, but then went back to hearts. Declarer ducked, won the next heart, and knocked out the club ace. She imagined that all she needed to do now was locate the diamond queen and she would have nine tricks — except that it was West who produced the ace and proceeded to cash her heart tricks for three down, and a 10-IMP gain for England instead of 10 IMPs the other way.


Had Dhondy won the first club and switched to spades, the defenders might still have prevailed. But this was a far better defense since once declarer had misguessed clubs, her fate was sealed.

ANSWER: The range for a call of one no-trump in balancing seat is considerably lower than in the direct seat, where the expected strength is 15-17. In protective position over a minor, your partner should expect you to hold 11-14. (Over a major-suit opening, the range would be 13-16 perhaps.) Therefore, you have just enough to balance with a one-no-trump call.


South Holds:

10 8 2
A 9 2
A J 10 4
Q 10 3


South West North East
  1 Pass 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