Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: All


K J 10 9 3

A J 4 3

J 4

K 5


8 7 4

K 9

10 9 8 5 2

J 6 2


A Q 6 2

10 7 6 2

A 7 3

Q 4



Q 8 5

K Q 6

A 10 9 8 7 3


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

Opening Lead: 10

“Man is sometimes extraordinarily, passionately, in love with suffering.”

— Fyodor Dostoyevsky

To coincide with the Fall Nationals now being played in Orlando, all the deals this week come from last year’s championships, in San Diego.

While the championships used to be almost exclusively an American event, this is no longer the case. National squads from all over Europe are regular visitors. In this deal from the Edgar Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs, Victoria Gromova and Tatiana Ponomareva — part of the Russian ladies’ national squad — defended very nicely against the no-trump game.

Gromova led the diamond 10 to Ponomareva’s ace, and South won the diamond continuation in hand. This had the effect of removing declarer’s fast entry to the clubs. It might be right to play on one of the majors at once, but neither suit seemed exactly promising, so South could think of nothing better to do than play three rounds of clubs, pitching a heart from dummy and hoping the defenders would continue the attack on diamonds. Gromova won the club jack, and her partner (playing upside-down discards, where a small card encourages) thoughtfully pitched the spade two.

Gromova obediently shifted to a spade, and Ponomareva won the queen and ace and played a third spade, locking declarer in dummy, forcing him to surrender a heart for down one.

While declarer could have succeeded by taking an early heart finesse, it is far from clear that that would have been a sensible approach on a different lie of the cards.


South Holds:

Q 8 5
K Q 6
A 10 9 8 7 3


South West North East
    1 Pass
ANSWER: A jump to three clubs used to be a forcing raise. Then came limit raises, and these days inverted raises prevail. By this I mean that many players (including me) use a simple raise to two of partner’s minor as at least a limit raise in that suit, with a jump to three as pre-emptive (about 3-7 HCP). It doesn’t matter what system you play, as long as you and your partner are on the same wavelength.


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