Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dealer: West

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
  Pass 1 Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass
4 Pass 5 Pass
5 Pass 5 Pass
6 NT All Pass    

Opening Lead:J

“If it had grown up, … it would have made a dreadfully ugly child; but it makes rather a handsome pig, I think.”

— Lewis Carroll

In today’s deal it may look as if South was hogging the contract, but he did remarkably well in both the bidding and the play.


After South’s game-forcing response, North was able to produce a simple raise of diamonds, then cue-bid over the jump to four hearts, which had suggested good diamonds and hearts and no black-suit first-round control.


When North showed his extras by bidding five clubs, South realized he had control of all suits except spades and that both red suits did not require to be ruffed out, so there was no benefit to playing at trumps. To prevent an opening lead through his spade king, South bid the slam in no-trump. West did well to settle for the passive club lead, and now it was up to South to make his slam.


South worked out at once that the contract could easily be made if the suits split normally. As a 4-0 heart split would be fatal unless West had the void, South first cashed the heart ace. When the bad break was revealed, it was extremely unlikely that West also had a void in diamonds. So South led a heart to the jack and queen, then played the diamond king, protecting against East being void there.


Now South could finesse twice in diamonds and once more in hearts. He could cash out his diamonds, then cross to the remaining club honor in dummy to take the long heart, bringing home a hard-earned 12 tricks: five diamonds, five hearts and two clubs.

ANSWER: The opponents have come to a stop at a disappointingly low level, given the bad heart break on the deal. Give them a little push by bidding three clubs, and hope that they will advance further in hearts. You are not really worth this call, but a small investment may pay big rewards if the opponents misjudge the deal.


South Holds:

A 8 7 5 2
J 9 6 2
J 10 8 2


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Dbl. Pass 1 NT
2 2 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


Ross TaylorMarch 27th, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Very well done methinks

Bobby WolffMarch 27th, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Hi Ross,

Some hands are tailored to having a wolf at every door, including to having to play this hand in NT. Going further, Bobby Ross was a highly successful football guru, coaching rambling wrecks. I wonder how many of his recruits became successful engineers? Probably not as many as those who drank their whiskey clear.

I appreciate your comments!

Paul D EastMarch 28th, 2010 at 2:48 am

In “Bid with the Aces”, you have South competing with 3 clubs to attempt to push the opponents. Since I have already

supported clubs once, I would be 2 spades and let partner choose. Is this wrong?

Bobby WolffMarch 28th, 2010 at 11:42 am

Hi Paul D.,

While your choice of rebidding 2 spades, instead of 3 clubs, is not unreasonable, because of partner’s not competing with 2 spades, I would not expect him to hold 3 spades. After all, partner has had 2 opportunities to support my suit and declined, it does not look like partner is anxious for me to compete in that suit.

From a practical standpoint, my original 1 spade bid would usually (contrary to some players opinions) have at least 5 to start with, although it is possible on certain unbalanced hands to have only 4, I would, because of the poor spade spots, shy away from that suit. If my hand, instead of what I held, was AJ109x, x, J9xx, Qxx and I felt one more bid was called for, then 2 spades, at least to me, would be more appropriate.

Obviously it is a fairly delicate choice, but a partnership needs to acquire the same “feel” so that one’s partner will be closer to approving his partner’s judgment and therefore know what to expect.