Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Dealer: North

Vul: Both


A 7 5 4 2

K Q 5

A 8 5

A 4


K J 8

10 9

J 10 9 3

K 7 3 2


10 9 6 3

A J 8 7

7 6 2

J 10



6 4 3 2

K Q 4

Q 9 8 6 5


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

Opening Lead: Jack

“Up Guards and at them again!”

— Duke of Wellington

One of the questions I am often asked is whether people should take the same approach in a pairs event as in a teams contest. The simple answer is that there is little difference in the bidding, but frequently one adopts a different approach in the play.


Succeeding at matchpoint pairs often involves collecting overtricks and undertricks, but teams is a purer (and simpler) form of the game, where your objective is to make your contracts, or defeat the opponents’ contract, if possible. As declarer in a pairs game, you will normally play for the maximum number of tricks rather than ensuring your contract at all costs.


Having said that, consider the following problem at teams. As West, you lead the diamond jack against three no-trump. Dummy’s ace wins the trick, partner playing the two. Declarer then plays the club ace and a club to his queen, East playing the jack and 10. Plan the defense.


From partner’s signal at trick one and his spot cards in clubs, it looks as though declarer has four club tricks and three diamond tricks. Those, plus the spade ace, mean you cannot afford to give him a heart trick or he will have his nine winners. You must try to set up the spades on defense, so your only realistic chance is to find partner with spade length.


Your best play is to switch to the spade king, hoping partner has a four-card suit and the heart ace. Shifting to the king covers the situation where declarer has the bare spade queen.


South Holds:

6 4 3 2
K Q 4
Q 9 8 6 5


South West North East
    1 Pass
2 3 4 4
ANSWER: Your partner’s second-round action is not a cue-bid. It suggests a red two-suiter, letting you judge whether to bid on in hearts over East’s call of four spades. With all your values in your partner’s second suit, you should certainly act now and bid five hearts. In auctions of this sort, opener should aim to help partner rather than look for slam.


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 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact