Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 1, 2010

Dealer: West

Vul: N/S

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


South West North East
  3 Dbl. 4
6 All Pass    

Opening Lead:7

“Learn to tread

Life’s dangerous maze

With unerring Virtue’s clue.”

— Lord Melcombe

Pre-emptive bids are two-edged weapons. They deprive opponents of bidding space, but sometimes they goad opponents into games or slams that they otherwise might not have bid, and help them to play those contracts successfully.


The late Doug Dang of San Francisco, today’s declarer in six clubs, saw a disappointing dummy on the lead of the diamond seven. An ace and the trump queen were missing, and the opening lead suggested that there was also a likely diamond loser.


Dang appreciated that he had to utilize the spade suit. Preserving entries to dummy, he won the lead in hand, then drew trumps with the king and ace, relieved to find the 2-2 break.


One line would now have been to play his spade toward the queen, and if West rose with an honor, take a ruffing finesse against East for the other spade honor. If West did not rise with his putative top spade, declarer could play to ruff two more spades in hand, setting up the suit if West held ace- or king-third of spades.


But the line that Dang chose was to run his spade eight. East won with the 10 and returned a heart. Dang captured this with his ace, then used dummy’s diamond entries to take two ruffing finesses in spades, forcing out both the ace and king and establishing the spade nine in dummy.


Finally, Dang reached dummy with a heart ruff to discard his losing diamond on the established spade nine. Slam made.

ANSWER: Since you have no intention of defending to a major-suit contract at a low level, do not pass the redouble, or you will make the job of describing your hand more complicated. Bid immediately, an action that will show a minimum distributional hand. You must choose between raising your own clubs and (my preference) bidding one diamond to show 4-5 or 4-6 in the minors.


South Holds:

A 9
Q 8 3 2
A J 10 9 8 5


South West North East
1 Dbl. Rdbl. 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


Paul BetheJanuary 15th, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Of course, when East returned a heart (and not a diamond), Declarer could have had more fun by:

Ace of hearts, heart ruff, spade ruff, run all but one trump. In the 4-card ending, when dummy keeps 2 spades and the AK of diamonds, East is trump-squeezed.

Bobby WolffJanuary 16th, 2010 at 11:31 am

Hi Paul,

Yes, you are right again. Particularly so if you, as declarer, had not fulfilled your squeeze quota for the session or tournament. We need to keep those bonuses coming.

With you overseeing the AOB so diligently, I feel somewhat insecure that no proofreading mistake by me will get a free pass, but at the same time I’ll have a chance to qualify over time for the Bethe award for excellence in bridge reporting.

I appreciate your comments!