Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
1 NT* Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 4 All Pass
*16-18 points

Opening Lead:Q

“I gave myself to him,

And took himself for pay.

The solemn contract of a life

Was ratified this way.”

— Emily Dickinson

This month I shall be featuring some of my favorite deals from “Kantar on Kontract.” Eddie Kantar has the deserved reputation of being not only one of the nicest and funniest people in the game, but also one of the best bridge writers. He states that when the following spade game was played in the Life Master’s Pairs, only one declarer managed to go down. Without looking at the East-West cards, try to avoid being the second! (Trumps split and neither opponent has a side-suit singleton.)


The unsuccessful declarer won the opening club lead, played the spade ace, led the spade five to the king, leaving one high trump outstanding, and began to run his hearts. He didn’t get very far. East, the player with the high trump, ruffed the third heart and returned a club. Dummy now had a winning heart, declarer a losing club and, you guessed it, declarer had no entry to dummy’s heart. He had cleverly left himself the 10-9 of spades while dummy had the 8-7. When he exited with a diamond, the defenders cashed two diamonds and a club — down one.


There are two much better ways to play the hand: Play the ace-king and a third spade. Now it is easy enough to discard a losing club on a heart without anybody ruffing. Alternatively, cash the spade ace and run the space nine. Assuming it loses, win the club return, draw the last trump, and play hearts.

ANSWER: It is easy to confuse a jump-shift rebid by opener — which is game-forcing — with jump support for your suit, which is invitational. Here you showed both majors and partner jumped to suggest some small extras in case you had game-interest. Because you have a bare minimum, pass two hearts.


South Holds:

K 8 7 6
K Q 9 3
10 4
7 6 5


South West North East
    1 1
Dbl. Pass 2 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


jim2March 17th, 2010 at 6:58 pm

In the bdding question, if the club seven were the queen, would you bid on?

Bobby WolffMarch 17th, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Hi Jim 2,

Your hypothetical example is right in the middle. With an aggressive partner I would pass, but with a conservative one I would raise to 3 and, of course, with the 3d little pig, her porridge was just right so I would pretend to flip my proverbial coin. Bridge is no where near an exact science, and for winning purposes it is about being right and having a special relationship with your bridge partnership. This applies from the top World Championship level all the way down to the clubs. Only be consistent with your partner which might mean making different judgments with different partners on the same hand.

A test of an already partnership or even one about to be in the making is to watch your partner or would be partner play and try and predict his bids and opening leads. If they do not mesh with your judgment don’t sign up for what would sure to be torture. Come to think of it that exercise might also work with choosing a lifetime mate.

jim2March 18th, 2010 at 1:43 am

Thank you.

I was, indeed, trying to postulate where the middle might be.