Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dealer: West

Vul: N/S

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


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

Opening Lead:K

“God sent his Singers upon earth

With songs of sadness and of mirth.”

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In today’s deal from the finals of the Yeh Brothers Cup, Huub Bertens of the Netherlands must have hoped for a more favorable comparison in the scoring than he achieved.


Playing in three no-trump, he ducked the top spade lead, won the heart shift cheaply in hand, and ducked a diamond in both hands. Back came a low heart, so he won and led a diamond to the king and ace. Now, rather than test diamonds, Bertens read the position accurately and gave up a heart, letting East cash the 13th heart. On this trick, declarer pitched a diamond from dummy and a spade from hand.


In the six-card ending, East made the natural but erroneous return of a spade. (It was hard to see at the table, but a club would have disrupted declarer’s communications.) Bertens won in hand and crossed to the club king to take his diamond winner, pitching a spade from hand. This had the effect of squeezing West in the black suits, so the contract came home.


So why was he disappointed when it came to the scoring? In the other room, his teammate as West opened a 10-12 no-trump, and then the doubling started. Eventually East wriggled out to two hearts. The defenders doubled and cashed two diamonds, three clubs and a spade. Finally South led the 13th club, ruffed high by North, to promote an extra trump trick for South, for a penalty of 800.

ANSWER: It seems cowardly to sell out and pass. Better is to balance — but with what? The simple call is two diamonds, but I marginally prefer one no-trump. The range for this action in balancing seat is wide — about 11-16 points — NOT the traditional strong no-trump you would hold in direct seat. Partner can find out about your shape and range with a two-club inquiry if he has game interest.


South Holds:

7 6 3
Q 7 4
A Q 6 5 4
K 8


South West North East
  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