Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
    1 2
2 Pass 4 All Pass

Opening Lead:2

“What Skipper would incur the risk,

What Buccaneer would ride

Without a surety from the wind

Or schedule of the tide?”

— Emily Dickinson

In today’s deal from the 2009 NEC, do you overcall as East ? I’m assuming that no one would risk a weak-jump overcall here (all right, no one we care to know), but how about a two-diamond bid? I’m strongly opposed to the idea at unfavorable vulnerability — and this deal suggests why.


If you play four spades as South on a low diamond lead, you will surely duck if your auction was unopposed, but if given information in the auction, might you find your way home?


Duplicated deals were in use, so the journalists could tell that four spades by North made four times and by South actually made eight times, and one of those times was when Liu Jing of China Evertrust was declarer.


He had received a double of an artificial diamond bid by Bakkeren, so he hopped up with dummy’s diamond ace at trick one, took his spade ace, then played three rounds of hearts, ruffing in hand, and had come to the critical moment of the deal. If East began with eight red cards and West five, the odds heavily favor the finesse of the spade nine to generate the extra entry to ruff out the hearts and return to the spade king in dummy. However, if East had failed to overcall, the more balanced hand-type would be more likely. The mathematical calculations are close, but Liu guessed right to finesse, thereby earning an editorial gold star from the tournament’s Daily Bulletin.

ANSWER: The response of two no-trump to a weak-two can be used to ask for a feature (best if you play sound weak-twos) or Ogust-style to ask for range and suit-quality. Because a feature is normally an ace or king, not shortage, this hand, though maximum, has no such feature. I’d bid three no-trump to suggest a good suit with no feature, but if you play this as a solid suit, then three clubs may be best.


South Holds:

A Q J 8 4 2
8 4
J 7 3
Q 9


South West North East
2 Pass 2 NT 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