Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W


K 7 6 4

A 8 3 2

6 2

Q J 4


Q 10 3

Q 7

Q 10 5 4

K 10 8 2


J 9 8 5

K J 10 4

J 9 8 7 3


A 2

9 6 5


A 9 7 6 5 3


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

Opening Lead: 4

“Thou’lt come no more,

Never, never, never, never, never!”

— William Shakespeare

At no-trump a simple rule is that it never makes sense to play on the opponents’ suit and set it up for them before you play on your own. But never say never, as demonstrated in today’s deal, which comes from last year’s Fall Nationals, at San Diego.

Consider the contract of three no-trump on the lead of the diamond four. You take East’s diamond jack with your king. What now? A simple approach would be to play a spade to dummy and go after clubs. That covers most of the bases, but not the 4-0 break when West has the length. Since this is a team game, where the object is to insure the contract, better is to lead a low club up to dummy at trick two. Lo and behold, East shows out.

Now you have to be careful. If you cross back to hand with the spade ace to lead a club up, West wins the club king, leaving clubs blocked, and plays a second diamond. Now you can’t unscramble your tricks.

Better is to make the somewhat unnatural-looking move of crossing to your diamond ace at trick three. This sets up the opponents’ diamonds, but in return you get to play a second club up toward dummy while leaving your entry protected. This lets West win his club king and cash the diamonds. But you can win the spade return in dummy, unblock clubs, and come to hand with the spade ace to claim the balance.


South Holds:

K 7 6 4
A 8 3 2
6 2
Q J 4


South West North East
    1 NT 2
ANSWER: These days it is relatively rare to run into opponents playing natural overcalls of one no-trump. But whatever the meaning of the two-club overcall (unless it specifically guarantees both majors), it is best to use the double of two clubs as Stayman — as if the opponents had not intervened at all — and to play the rest of your normal system as if the opponents had not bid at all. For higher-level intervention, takeout doubles work fine from both sides of the table.


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