Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 24, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W


A 9 6

A 10 6

Q 9 5

J 9 5 2


J 8 7 3 2

8 7 5

A 4

10 7 6


K 10 4

J 4 3 2

K 3 2

Q 8 3


Q 5

K Q 9

J 10 8 7 6

A K 4


South West North East
1 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead: 3

“Oh I get by with a little help from my friends.”

— Lennon and McCartney

Defensive signaling is a vastly under-studied area of the game. Everyone thinks they understand attitude and count signals, but suit preference is the red-headed step-child of signals. The point is that on just about every deal one defender or the other has the opportunity to pass a message to his partner. Of course that signal does not always translate into tricks, but that does not take away from the usefulness of the signal.

After West led the spade three to the king, East returned the suit. Declarer won the queen as West contributed the eight. Declarer now thoughtfully led a heart to the ace and tried a low diamond from the board. If East had played low, declarer would have been home, since West’s diamond entry would have been dislodged before the spades were established. However East alertly rose with the diamond king to play a spade, and defeat the game. Why did East find the play? On the second spade West had followed with the eight, in a position where he could not have started life with three or four small cards, or he would have led a larger spot-card initially. The most likely meaning for the spade eight was suit preference for West’s remaining entry. Following with the jack would have suggested a card in hearts, so the eight suggested diamonds.

East knew that unless West had an ace, the game was surely not going to be defeated, and it was necessary for East to preserve his partner’s entry until the spades were established.


South Holds:

A 9 6
A 10 6
Q 9 5
J 9 5 2


South West North East
  1 2 4
ANSWER: Frequently when your partner makes a simple overcall and the opponents bounce to game in an agreed suit, it puts you under the gun in fourth seat. Best here is to double, meaning it simply as values, (in an ideal world those values would be ‘transferable’ meaning tricks on both offence and defense). The overcaller is expected to bid again with significant extra length in his suit, or a two-suiter.


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