Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dealer: West

Vul: All

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


South West North East
  2* Pass 4
5 Dbl. All Pass  
*Both majors, 6-10 points

Opening Lead: 10

“No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.”

— John Locke

The first tournament in the European Open last year, which was held in the beautiful resort of San Remo on the Mediterranean coast, was the Mixed Teams. Today’s deal comes from the qualifying event.


In the match involving the defending champions, Jeremy Dhondy’s team, Lilo Poplilov declared five diamonds doubled on an informative auction in which West had opened to show both majors, but had nonetheless doubled his opponents’ game to lead a club, a card that was assumed to be a singleton


Lilo drew the appropriate inference and could see the likely denouement. When he played trumps, a defender would win, and if it was East, he would give his partner the ruff. But what if West had the trump ace? Now the issue was whether the defenders would have communications for the ruff.


To cut those communications, Lilo played three rounds of hearts, hoping that West would not see the necessity of unblocking two of his top hearts under the ace and king. Had he done so, that would have let his partner win the third round of hearts. When he failed to unblock, Lilo led a third top heart and pitched his spade. West had to win the trick — bang went the defenders’ communications in spades!


Lilo emerged with 11 tricks, but curiously this was only good for a small pickup for the Dhondy team. The same contract had been let through, undoubled, in the other room, in precisely the same fashion.

ANSWER: If your partnership plays negative doubles, then you are absolutely obligated to reopen here with a takeout double, rather than passing or (horrors) rebidding two clubs. The odds are heavily in your favor here; if the opponents can only muster up a call of one diamond between them, then your partner surely has some values. If so, the only hand he would pass on is one with diamond length.


South Holds:

9 6 3
A K 2
J 5
K J 7 6 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 2010. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact