Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 29, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: N/S

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


South West North East
Pass Pass 1 Pass
2 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead:5

“Even the bravest that are slain

Shall not dissemble their surprise

On waking to find valor reign,

Even as on earth, in paradise.”

— Robert Frost

In today’s deal from the 2010 NEC Cup, getting to three no-trump is easy; making it is more challenging.


For example, Frankie Frontaura was able to bid diamonds naturally and invite in no-trump as a passed hand. Diego Brenner liked his 13-count enough to accept. On a heart lead Frontaura won, took the spade finesse at once, but a heart back doomed him. The defenders had three hearts and three side-suit winners before declarer could collect more than seven tricks.


By contrast, when Fu Zhong played three no-trump, he won the heart lead (taking East’s heart 10 with his queen), then played a spade to dummy’s king, a diamond to his king, and a club up, ducking West’s club queen. West hoped to find partner with the heart jack, so led a second diamond. East won and returned a heart, ducked by West. At this point, declarer cashed the club and diamond winners and paused for a reassessment. West, a passed hand, was known to have a 4-5-2-2 pattern and had shown up with nine points already. So Fu led a spade to dummy’s ace — contract made — the only declarer to record 600.


At a third table, the play to the first two tricks was the same in two no-trump. But Huub Bertens as East did not duck his diamond ace at trick three, but hopped up with it to play a second heart, ducked. Now, when declarer took the spade finesse, he had only seven tricks.

ANSWER: Are you a firm believer in the idea that an overcall MUST be based on a five-card suit or longer? I’d agree if we are looking at two-level overcalls, where the norm is a six-card suit. But at the one-level, you can overcall on a good four-card suit in a decent hand if you are flawed for other action. I do know this: anyone who makes a takeout double with this hand deserves to play in a 4-2 heart fit, doubled!


South Holds:

A K J 2
8 6
10 7 6 3
A J 9


South West North East
    Pass 1


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


Bobby WolffFebruary 12th, 2010 at 4:11 pm

For those who have just read today’s (Friday) column, allow me to offer an opinion.

Fu Zhong. who fairly recently won the World Open Pair has proven to me that he is a special player, worthy of incredible performances, and should be recognized as one of the great players in the world. This hand is an example and his bridge detective work was superior. He combined excellent technique, winning the first heart with the queen, causing West to have hope that his partner held the jack. He then ducked the queen of clubs, also playing with West’s mind that, yes, declarer is trying to keep East off lead to prevent the devasting return of the jack of hearts. West fell victim to the ruse and ventured a diamond, suspecting his partner had ducked the ace. Right he was, but to no avail, since declarer turned up with another heart stopper.

Fu Zhong then completed his romance of the game by reconstructing West’s hand, after finding out about the diamonds and the clubs (West having exactly 2 of each). West was known to have 4-5-2-2 with the ace of hearts and the KQ of clubs. He decided that West, if holding the queen of spades, would have opened either 1 heart or Flannery if they were so playing it. His counting job was complete and all that was left was for him to back his own judgment and play for East, known to hold only 2 spades, to hold the queen. BINGO!

No mirrors, sleight of hand or ifs, ands or buts. This is not Memorex. It is REAL and is what a very top player is about. Anything less is suspect. It involved, as it seemingly always does, counting, reconstruction, technique and judgment. BRIDGE, ANYONE?? Can anyone, anywhere doubt its magnificence?

Paul BetheFebruary 12th, 2010 at 6:21 pm


Most of the time, we remember or write-up that triple Lindig squeeze, or backwash coup.

This sort of hand, where deceptive play plus excellent timing lead to a contract make requires more attention. There is no coincidence that a top player like Fu is able to do this regularly.