Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: None

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


South West North East
1NT* Pass 2 2
Pass Pass 3 Pass
3 Pass 3 Pass
4 All Pass    

Opening Lead: 10

“To mortify and even to injure an opponent, reproach him with the very defect or vice … you feel … in yourself.”

— Ivan Turgenev

To mark the Summer Nationals currently taking place in New Orleans, here is a deal from last year’s championships.


Steve and Betty Bloom are one of the most successful married partnerships playing bridge in the United States. Steve demonstrated his skill in this deal from early play in the Spingold Knockout Teams.


After Steve opened the South hand with a weak no-trump, North bid puppet Stayman, looking for a five-card major in her partner’s hand. East overcalled in spades, and now, with no spade stop, it was easy for the Blooms to avoid three no-trump.


It might have been less clear why it was necessary to play four hearts on the 3-3 fit. As to blame, as Sherlock Holmes said, “I think we must ask for an amnesty in that direction.”


The defenders, top-class Polish internationals, started with a spade to East’s jack and a helpful (to Bloom) shift to the club nine, covered by the 10 and ducked.


Bloom played a heart to the jack and gave up a spade, ruffing the spade return in dummy, West pitching a club.


Bloom then played a diamond to the queen, and played the diamond jack covered by the king and ace, West’s 10 falling. He drew two rounds of trumps ending in hand and then passed the club jack, ducked all round and played a third diamond. West could take his heart trick when he wanted, but with only clubs left, had to concede the last three tricks to dummy. Contract made!

ANSWER: Your partner has shown 5-5 in the black suits, since he is a passed hand. (If he were an unpassed hand, this would show a strong no-trump.) Even though all your cards are in the opponents’ suits, a two-spade bid seems reasonable. However, if your partner is going to bid on regardless of his hand, maybe passing would be wiser.


South Holds:

8 4 3
A 10 5
A Q 7 3 2
J 10


South West North East
    Pass 1
Pass 1 1 NT 2


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


Steven BloomAugust 12th, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Actually, I was North. Betty played this hand. This was in the finals of the warmup KO before the Spingold. We were down a lot at the half, and I remember trying for a 4-3 heart fit, hoping for a swing. 4-3, 3-3, close enough!

Bobby WolffAugust 12th, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Hi Steven,

Curses, The Aces will have to get better correspondents.

However, to be able to ride a 3-3 fit into a makable game contract and in the Spingold no less, is quite a feat. If tournament bridge had record keepers like baseball does, Betty would certainly be in elite company.

Anyway, keep on winning, but to do so please improve your bidding. There are only so many 3-3 fits which can get the job done.

David WarheitAugust 13th, 2010 at 6:58 pm

You have misdescribed the play. You state that south finesses the diamond queen and then (immediately) leads the jack. Later, you state that south draws 2 rounds of trump when the suit is blocked, north holding the by then singleton king. The only sequence that I can think of that makes sense is that south leads the diamond jack and then cashes the heart king and diamond winner in his hand, then leads the 3d round of diamonds to dummy. This works, but why did declarer play west for doubleton ten of diamonds instead of east for doubleton king, knowing as he did that east had six spades to west’s two and that east had to have either 3 or 4 hearts in order for his contract to have a chance? Finally, if west ruffs the 3d round of spades with the 8, doesn’t that defeat the contract?

Bobby WolffAugust 14th, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Hi David,

You are right in most all counts. This hand has been trouble from the beginning, with us even naming the wrong declarer, which turned out to be Betty not Steven.

You are certainly right in that declarer undoubtedly led the Jack of diamonds from dummy, nailing the doubleton 10 in West’s hand, probably because of the singleton club with RHO. Yes, if West had ruffed in with the eight of trumps it would have put paid to the contract.

Its all a bad dream for us and also for readers like you who get directly involved with the play.

Sorry for what happened, but perhaps the moral gleaned when playing a 3-3 fit at the game level will be that it is as hard to describe accurately as it is to bid and play it.