Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, October 22, 2010

Dealer: West

Vul: N/S


J 5

K 7 6 2

K 9 7 4

K 10 3


A Q 10 6

A 8 4

Q J 6

J 9 8


3 2

J 9 3

A 8 5 3 2

A 7 6


K 9 8 7 4

Q 10 5


Q 5 4 2


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

Opening Lead: Q

“It’s a very odd thing —

As odd as can be —

That whatever Miss T. eats

Turns into Miss T.”

— Walter de la Mare

Do you believe in coincidences at bridge? Today’s and tomorrow’s deals bear a weird similarity to each other. As you will see, the coincidences do not stop there.

At the World Championships in Tunisia in 1997, Michael Rosenberg boldly protected against the Chinese East-West pair, and West decided to try to punish him for his impudence.

The defenders led the diamond queen and shifted to the club nine, which went to the 10 and ace. Now back came the heart three to the 10 and ace, and another heart to Rosenberg’s queen.

Declarer ruffed two diamonds in hand while cashing his remaining heart and club winners, to reach a four-card ending with the lead in South and six tricks in the bag. Rosenberg had three trumps and a club left in hand, West had all his trumps left, and dummy had two spades and one card in each red suit. The East hand was irrelevant.

Declarer now advanced his club (planning to ruff with the spade jack and collect one more trump trick subsequently). West could do no better than ruff with the queen and lead a low spade, hoping his partner has the spade nine. But Rosenberg could run the spade to his hand and make two trump tricks for his contract.

After the first two tricks, the only way to set the contract was for East to shift to a trump at trick three. Two early rounds of spades insures that West collects his third trump winner eventually.


South Holds:

J 5
K 7 6 2
K 9 7 4
K 10 3


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
ANSWER: It is clear to pass now; while you may find lies of the cards where you can make game, they are few and far between. There are many more hands on which a three- or four-level contract will go down. To bid on, you need a fifth trump. Turn any of your small plain cards into the trump two and you have enough to try for game.


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


Michael SteinNovember 5th, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Dear Mr. Wolff:

Apropos to your bidding example, just today on BBO:

KQ95 A8764

K987 J4

K2 QJ94

J63 Q4

Partner Me

1C 1S

2S 3D


Contract was set two. Bad luck or was I incorrect to make a game try? Was my partner correct to accept it?


bobbywolffNovember 6th, 2010 at 3:24 am

Hi Michael,

Regarding your problem hand, the first two bids are slam dunks, however, after we arrive at 2 spades I would rate your rebid as:

Pass 60%

3 spades and 3 diamonds each about 40% depending on your style. 3 diamonds is slightly more descriptive, but also alerts the opponents on opening lead and later defense.

After either of your game tries partner should pass 3 spades and/or convert 3 diamonds to 3 spades. It is clearly an error for him to bid on since, although holding 4 trumps for you, his hand is very minimum and made up of soft values.

Good luck and thanks for writing.