Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


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

Opening Lead: 2

“Whence are we, and why are we? Of what scene

The actors or spectators?”

— Percy Bysshe Shelley

Today’s deal highlights one of my favorite players in the women’s game, Catherine D’Ovidio of France.


The point of the deal is that even at the top levels of the game, declarers may be prepared to invest a trick by making a deceptive play, assuming that no defender will believe they are capable of such deviousness. Witness this deal from the 1997 Venice Cup quarterfinals.


D’Ovidio was playing a disciplined weak-two style, which persuaded Veronique Bessis to make a constructive rather than a pre-emptive try for game. Now South was never going to reject that invitation.


She made 10 tricks, but the way she did so was interesting. On West’s low spade lead, D’Ovidio played low from dummy. As the cards lay, this was a play that might well have required some embarrassing explanations to her teammates.


D’Ovidio had reasoned correctly that this play would put East under a great deal of pressure if she had ace-king-nine, and that East was never going to be able to read the position and put in the nine if she was looking at her actual holding.


D’Ovidio had calculated accurately, East duly winning the spade ace at trick one. That meant 10 tricks for North-South in due course, when declarer guessed clubs.


Incidentally, if you want to play in, or watch, a world championship in the United States, an opportunity will present itself in Philadelphia this October. The events are open to everyone. For more information check out

ANSWER: You rate to be facing a minimum balanced hand (one that cannot raise hearts or repeat clubs) and so you have no source of tricks. It feels right if just a little pessimistic to rebid one no-trump rather than trying for game with a call of two no-trump. Partner may not expect you to hold quite so much, but there is more to the game than just counting points.


South Holds:

Q 10 6
A 8 5 4
5 3 2
A J 8


South West North East
    1 Pass
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 2010. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact