Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dealer: East

Vul: N/S

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


South West North East
1 2 2 3
3 Pass 4 Dbl.
Rdbl. 5 Pass Pass
6 Pass 6 Pass
6 Pass 7 All Pass

Opening Lead:A

“We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it — and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again — and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”

— Mark Twain

The Lederer Invitational Teams is a world-class event held every year in London. As the last round of the 2008 tournament started, the gap between the leaders, Team Gold Cup and the chasing teams of England and Ireland (who played each other in the last round) had closed. On the final deal, Forrester and Bakhshi for the leaders had only to bid a small slam to win the event. The players did not know this, of course, and there was another possible twist to the tale.


The key bid was by South, David Bakhshi, three diamonds showing his second suit, which made North, Tony Forrester, like his hand much more. He had nothing wasted in clubs, and had a fourth trump, which he had not promised. When Bakhshi made a grand-slam try with a six–club bid, he was pleased to cooperate. He chose six hearts, as he did not want to play in diamonds.


Now Bakhshi indicated, completely in tempo, that he was not worth any more himself; and that might have ended the auction. But Forrester re-evaluated his diamond holding one more time and bid the grand slam. Right he was! They played the small slam in the other room.


Interestingly, East, Gunnar Hallberg, could, and probably would, have sacrificed in seven clubs if Forrester had passed six spades. Had North-South then defended to seven clubs, down only 800, the IMPs dropped by the Gold Cup team would have let their pursuers (Ireland) overtake them.

ANSWER: The jump to four hearts is a splinter, showing short hearts and a slam-try for diamonds. In context you now have a marvelous hand – remember, thus far you have promised nothing. With two working honors, you will commit the hand to slam, but start by cue-bidding four spades, planning to raise five diamonds to six.


South Holds:

A J 8 3
8 5 4
Q J 4
J 9 2


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Pass 3 Pass
3 Pass 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


Ross TaylorDecember 25th, 2009 at 1:32 pm

North’s bids of 4 clubs and 6 hearts were bids of a very high calibre. My jury is out on his 7 spade bid (excepting the result of course) but this is a guy who clearly understands the game very well.

Perhaps Forrester’s logic for bidding 7 spades over 6 spades is he always intended to play in a grand after his partner bid 6 clubs, but was not sure whether or not 7 diamonds would be superior to 7 spades. This implies he was planning to pass 7 diamonds.

Is that what he was thinking perhaps Bobby, or do you think he simply changed his mind (surely not)?

Bobby WolffDecember 25th, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Hi Ross and Happy Holidays,

Your analysis is very insightful. Tony Forrester has been and still is one of the world’s top players with a particularly good “nose” for table action.

Yes, he may have been thinking that if his partner bid 7 diamonds over 6 hearts he would have passed, if for no other reason than to give partner a playing option to run solid diamonds first as trump, in order to make a more intelligent guess in spades in case partner had either K10xxxx or K109xx making the spade guess the key issue in the success of the grand slam.

Yet, knowing Tony, I do not think that was the reason, but rather, not being a bidding purist but having exceptional judgment instead, he just decided to gamble the grand slam at the time of his final parry and thrust.

Of course, doing as he did, there may be those who fear that his partner’s response to 6 hearts, bidding 6 spades, gave away his feelings about considering bidding seven, therefore allowing the overrule. I was not there and have no idea what transpired and in no way am I suggesting possible action based on unauthorized information, but nevertheless, whether you were or were not alluding to that possibility, it is normal for any great or would be great bridge player like yourself (particularly a poker icon) to subtly question the motivation.

Such is life in the fast lane!!