Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dealer: East

Vul: All


K Q 3

K 10 7 6

K 8

Q 10 9 4


J 9 7 6 5

10 7 4 3

7 6 3 2


10 4 2

A Q J 8 2

J 9 6

J 8


A 8

9 5 4 3

A Q 5 2

A K 5


South West North East
1 NT Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 4 All Pass

Opening Lead: 6

“Sometimes these cogitations still amaze

The troubled midnight and the noon’s repose.”

— T.S. Eliot

The friendliness of the competitors and their high standard of ethics contribute hugely to making the Schapiro Spring Foursomes a most enjoyable event. And the standard of play is pretty high too!

The Norwegian international Boye Brogeland found himself in four hearts here when North used Stayman instead of raising directly to three no-trump, the action chosen at the other table. The bad trump break meant declarer would need to be very careful.

West led a spade, won in hand by South with the ace. Brogeland was brought up short when West showed out on the low heart continuation. However, he accurately inserted dummy’s 10, taken by the jack, and won the club return in hand. Three rounds of diamonds were followed by the club ace, then the spade queen and king, on which Brogeland discarded his third club (to avoid an embarrassing ruff from East).

A four-card ending had been reached, declarer having thus far lost just one trump trick, and now came the club queen from dummy. With just A-Q-8-2 of hearts left, whichever heart East chose to play would allow declarer to come to two of the last four tricks. Had East ruffed low, South would have overruffed and put East back on play to lead a trump to dummy’s king. In fact East elected to ruff with the queen, then returned the two, won by North’s six. Now a club from North meant declarer scored either his heart king or nine for the game-going trick.


South Holds:

K Q 3
K 10 7 6
K 8
Q 10 9 4


South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
2 Pass 2 NT Pass
ANSWER: Your partner’s invitational sequence suggests about an 11-count with four hearts. Your soft cards suggest four hearts may not make, but with so much of your hand in your short suits, I would not be surprised to discover that two no-trump was easier to make than three hearts. So I would pass, although correcting to three hearts might work if partner turns out to be weak in diamonds.


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


jim2December 14th, 2010 at 7:14 pm

This hand reminded me of _Challenge Match_ by Hugh Kelsey, a wonderful book!

The reader would be placed in 4 hearts, having won the spade lead in hand and led a small trump only to see West show out. Kelsey would ask which heart the reader would play from the board, and how play should proceed after East won and returned a club.

Failure to play the heart ten and to later properly play the black suits (pitch club on third spade) would lead to down one.

Even if the reader did both, Kelsey would reveal that the result was not a positive swing, but merely reduced the loss on the deal to 1 IMP, as three notrump made five in the other room. There, declarer had received the same opening lead and tested clubs before attempting hearts. Then, after cashing out for ten tricks, discovered that an eleventh could not be prevented.

bobbywolffDecember 15th, 2010 at 12:43 am

Hi Jim2,

Contrary to logic, I have not read many bridge books in the last large number of years, rendering me not the one to ask about which authors can do this and which can do that. Kelsey apparently is a truth teller who concerns himself with unedited real life hands. With the hand in question and at IMPs or rubber bridge there is a good case for merely raising partner’s strong 1NT to 3NT since it is much easier to slide home with nine tricks than it is to make 10 when the trumps do not break.

At matchpoints, where every trick is ultra important, greater exactness is required and the percentage matchpoint contract needs to be reached.

My lifetime summation is that IMPs is a better game than matchpoints since there is too large a luck element in determining how the hand breaks but at the same time, occasionally having to jeopardize a makable game while playing matchpoints in order to risk the overtrick. Just too many decisions to be made.