Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 13, 2010

Dealer: West

Vul: None


10 6 4

K 9 5

Q 9 8 2

Q 9 3


A 8 5 2

7 6

7 4 3

J 10 6 4


Q 9 7

Q 10 8 4

J 10 6

8 5 2


K J 3

A J 3 2

A K 5

A K 7


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

Opening Lead: 7

“It takes all sorts of in and outdoor schooling

To get adapted to my kind of fooling.”

— Robert Frost

All this week’s deals come from last year’s Lederer Invitational tournament. You will be able to follow this year’s event on

It may come as a surprise to see two Easts open third in hand, but the Board-a-Match scoring encourages such levity. In our featured auction, Alexander Alfrey (East) started with his longest suit, hearts. South drove to three no-trump in short order, and Andrew Robson (West) led a heart to the eight and jack. Declarer did not yet know East had psyched, so he crossed to the heart king and led a spade to the jack, but Robson ducked smoothly. Declarer now misguessed diamonds by finessing dummy’s nine on the third round, losing to East’s jack. Declarer now had only 10 tricks — a triumph for “natural” bidding!

At another table Jon Cooke, a professional poker player, psyched a one-spade opening as East. However, John Matheson (South) brushed aside the psyche by bidding three no-trump on the next round.

West led a normal spade, Matheson won the nine with the jack, and the psyche was fully exposed. Declarer crossed to the heart king and led a heart to the jack. He now cashed the diamonds from the top. When both defenders threw clubs, he took three rounds of clubs, ending in North. This squeezed East in the majors. East had no choice but to bare the spade queen, but South exited dummy with a spade to the queen, king and ace, scoring an improbable 690.


South Holds:

J 6 3
Q 10 4
A 9 6
J 7 4 2


South West North East
  1 1 1
2 2 All Pass  
ANSWER: A diamond lead might work, but seems far too committal for our side. A passive lead is safer, and a club looks least likely to give away a trick. On this auction partner will have two trumps more often than not (from his failure to compete further in diamonds), so any time he has an honor, a spade lead may cost a trick.


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


Paul BetheSeptember 30th, 2010 at 10:15 pm

The statement “the psyche was fully exposed” seems not quite complete. If the auction went the same as in the diagram, then why would South think other than West had led stiff 2 for his partner’s 6-card suit.

Perhaps, at the table, West made a non-vulnerable bid of 3S pre-emptive after P-P-1S-X-?. That seems more reasonable.

South persisted with 3N, and then after the opening lead, South surmised that West would not psyche the jump-raise, and therefore East must have psyched the opening.

Though, if West raised to only 2S, again, why couldn’t East have H9xx and West have lead 3rd best from Hxx?

Bobby WolffOctober 1st, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Hi Paul,

While your comments are not short on logic, the subject matter goes back in time, at least for me, to the 1950’s when psyching, especially 3d seat openings, NV, and by many of the leading players of that day, were the rage.

Granted, “exposing the psyche”, was a bit grandiose

but that was the signature of those times.

When those words were used it was somewhat nostalgic for me.

Thanks for writing.