Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dealer: East

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
2 4 5 5
6 Dbl. All Pass  

Opening Lead:A

“Tell me, Muse, of the man of many tricks.”

— Homer

All this week’s deals come from last year’s Yeh Brothers Cup in Brisbane, to mark the tournament taking place now.


In the later stages of the event both Souths in one match reached six hearts doubled. Our hero, Peter Fredin, was one of those declarers, after overcalling a one-spade opening with two hearts, then bidding again. Both Wests led a top spade; both declarers ruffed and drew a round of trumps. The Norwegian declarer cashed the diamond ace, playing for his legitimate chance of the singleton diamond king, then played a second diamond. West won his king and cashed out for down one.


By contrast, Fredin — never afraid to put his neck on the block and risk looking stupid — led a low diamond from hand at trick three. Now you know why the commentators and journalists love to watch him play! Of course, this play gives up on a legitimate chance to make the contract, but some declarers would rather go for what they see as their best psychological line, not the best technical line, and who can argue with success?


Sitting West was a member of the current European Championship winning team — no rabbit. Yes, his decision to duck the diamond might look ridiculous, but Fredin had given him the chance to look silly, and I assume he thought Fredin was not capable of such guile. He knows better now.

ANSWER: The simple answer would be a reopening bid of two clubs. (Pass would be unthinkable — never sell out with shortage in the opponent’s suit at the one-level.) An alternative action, one I marginally prefer, is to double. This caters to partner’s having a penalty double of spades, and if partner picks diamonds, you have no reason to assume he will be wrong to do so.


South Holds:

8 5
A K Q 9 8
A 4
Q 10 9 3


South West North East
1 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


Amnon HarelMarch 3rd, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Isn’t the real goat the unnamed East who opened 1S instead of a weak two, grossly overstating his defensive values? The weak opening should serve as a warning to West that his partner isn’t likely to hold the key side ace. Any idea what motivated this odd opening bid?

Bobby WolffMarch 3rd, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Hi Amnon,

Aye, Amnon, you are correct in your valid assessment, but we need to analyze it still further.

1. No doubt that East had closer to a 2 spade weak 2 opener than he was to a defense promising opening of 1 of a suit bid. For some time now, the younger generation of very high-level bridge players have been taking significant liberties with the former hallowed defensive values promised by the old-time opening of 1 of a suit bids.

2. At a current high-level world bridge comparison there is a much stronger poker type element which has entered through the front door of our great game and now occupies a spot in a threatened changing tradition.

3. In an attempt to be fair minded, it was East’s very bold bidding (starting with his very shady 1 spade opening) which both tantalized and goaded North-South (specifically South) into taking a phantom save on the subject hand.

4. Low and behold, partly because of Fredin’s brilliant and daring play of a low diamond toward dummy and then West’s foolhearty duck of the setting trick, in the fear of his partner’s holding the singleton ace which caused this newsworthy result. As the late and great Edgar Kaplan once said, “The difference between daring and foolhearty usually is based solely on the result”.

5. There is little doubt that from the whole world’s expert bridge community there have been material changes made in strategy with more on the way. From a geezer like me, and evidently from a solid citizen like you, we are both stunned. and can only observe what is happening, but in order for all of us to properly appraise its value, we need to sit back, carefully assess the overall results and let the future decide the utility of the differences.

6. Thanks for your comment, which often, like here, will lead to the presenting and then discussion of new subjects and then exciting theories for all of us to ponder.