Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: E-W


A 7 4

7 5 4

K 6

A J 10 6 5


Q 3

Q J 10 8 6

A J 4

K 7 3


J 10 9 5 2

9 3 2

10 7 2

Q 4


K 8 6


Q 9 8 5 3

9 8 2


South West North East
1 2 Pass
3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead: Queen

“There is not enough time to do all the nothing we want to do.”

— Bill Watterson

At no-trump, declarer normally attacks his longest suit, because that is where he rates to establish more tricks than anywhere else. One reason for not doing so might be because he doesn’t have time to do everything he needs to do. One such example was submitted by Pedro Paulo Assumpcao of Brazil as an entry to the BOLS bridge prize competition.


Playing three no-trump, you must develop five tricks in the minors, but you only have one heart stopper left, so you can let the defenders in just once. If you attack clubs and lose the lead to East, a heart will come back. Even though you can now establish the clubs, you only have eight tricks. You don’t have enough tempos to establish your ninth trick in diamonds, because West will step up with the ace and cash the setting tricks in hearts.


What you must do is lead a low diamond at trick two. Now if West ducks, you win the king, cross to the spade king, and run the club nine, which loses to the queen. Back comes a heart, which you win, and now you run the club eight. When that holds, you have your nine tricks: four clubs, two hearts, two spades and one diamond.


If West rises with the diamond ace at trick two and clears hearts, you can take four diamond tricks so long as the suit breaks 3-3 or the J-10 is doubleton. In either case you will need only one club trick for the contract.


South Holds:

A 7 4
7 5 4
K 6
A J 10 6 5


South West North East
1 1 1 Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass
ANSWER: The three-club call is a try for game, not an attempt to improve the part-score, and is forcing. The one-spade bid promised five (with four he would have doubled instead), so the fact that you have only three trumps is not critical. Rather than signing off or jumping to game, you might bid three diamonds, suggesting an in-between hand for your partner, with a diamond feature, to let him decide what to do.


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


jim2February 9th, 2011 at 2:19 pm

On the bidding quiz question, was North’s two clubs natural? (Or was it some form of new minor forcing?)

If natural, I would simply bid four spades.

Actually, given that South did not bid two hearts on the previous round, South sure seems to have a maximum. (except, perhaps, for that absent fourth spade)

John Howard GibsonFebruary 9th, 2011 at 3:52 pm

HBJ : Another highly instructive hand. Indeed that would be my thinking if I was in 3NT. Clearly there are two options: plan (a) is to go for 4C , 1D, 2H and 2S……………….whereas plan (b) is to make 4D , 1C , 2H, 2S, but this requires diamonds breaking 3-3 and the Ace beating thin air.

So yes, the decision to try plan ( b ) first is crucial, because once you make your diamond king at trick 2, reverting back to plan (a)

guarantees the contract providing club honours are split.

A brilliant example of keeping all options open, but starting off on the right foot first. I love it.

Bobby WolffFebruary 9th, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Hi Jim2,

I’m away, which makes it tough for me to make the necessary correction, but the whole BWTA is skewed, it just taking some investigation to return the hand to status quo.

Yes, you are, of course, correct in all your assumptions, Even after a weak overcall it becomes likely that the partner of the overcaller should make sure game is bid (whether 4 spades or even possibly 3NT, if partner insists) and an immediate cue bid of 2 hearts is called for,

Thanks for pointing out the gaffe.

Bobby WolffFebruary 9th, 2011 at 5:11 pm


Thanks for the kind comments on the hand itself.

While the hand selected is usually the focal point, the process of thinking (which you so deftly describe) is the vehicle which should be emphasized.

High-level bridge is usally an exercise of proper planning, e.g. using the tools available, the specific cards dealt to you, the bidding or lack of it as a guide (on this hand West holding the ace of diamonds) and the necessary number of tricks contracted for and hopefully achieved.

Solving continuous problems with cards as the instruments, is the order of the day or perhaps a lifetime.

jim2February 9th, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Ah, the new bidding for that problem makes more sense. Got it. And I see you also got the correct hand in that earlier column now.

Enjoy! That you mind the store at all for us while you are away is pure bonus.