Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Dealer: East

Vul: N-S


7 4 2

9 7 6 2

J 5

K Q 9 3


J 10 3

A Q 10 5

A Q 2

J 8 4



K J 3

9 8 7 3

A 10 7 6 2


A K Q 9 8 6

8 4

K 10 6 4



South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
4 All Pass

Opening Lead: four

“Learning, that cobweb of the brain,

Profane, erroneous, and vain.”

— Samuel Butler

To celebrate the NEC invitationals teams currently taking place in Yokohama, all this week’s deals come from last year’s event.


In the later stages of the qualifying tournament there were many Souths who attempted four spades, running into an unfavorable lie of the minor-suit cards and going two down at almost every table.


At many tables West had doubled the opening spade bid (a call I heartily agree with, despite the balanced nature of the West hand, since it is safer to get into your opponents’ auction at your first turn than to wait till they have defined their hands and can thus judge better how to handle your intervention). Where that was the case, East had no trouble defending correctly.


When Sartaj Hans of Australia played the spade game on an unopposed auction, he received a low club lead. Following the BOLS bridge tip given by Tony Forrester about the power of the closed hand (the defenders cannot see declarer’s hand), he smoothly called for a low card from dummy at trick one.


Fooled, East won the club ace and tried to give his partner a ruff. That let declarer discard both his heart losers on the club winners and play a diamond. He now had the tempo to set up a diamond and ruff a diamond in dummy, making 10 tricks. Hans was the only declarer in the field to bring home his game contract.


South Holds:

A K Q 9 8 6
8 4
K 10 6 4


South West North East
1 Pass 1
1 2 Pass 3
ANSWER: On auctions of this sort, where your partner had the opportunity to support you cheaply but did not do so and where your red-suit holdings look exceedingly vulnerable, pass and hope that a bad trump break will embarrass declarer.


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


John Howard GibsonMarch 1st, 2011 at 10:56 am

HBJ : I love this little story, because lets face it playing low from dummy does seem to an to the unsuspecting East, that South MUST HOLD the jack. And if he has the jack, then West’s 4 must be a singleton.

So my question is why didn’t other decent declarers in 4S “suss” that this little deception might well avoid the catastrophe that awaits them if East is compelled to find a killing switch at trick 2 ( any red suit will do ).

However, a second question concerns why did South jump to 4S when a more sensible bid would be 3D ( a long suit trial bid ). My partner would no doubt resist the invitation and bid 3S to end the auction. At what point does aggression turn into reckless foolishness ?

bobbywolffMarch 1st, 2011 at 3:17 pm


Chances are, at other tables, after the standard 1 spade opening, 2nd seat took the more aggressive action of doubling instead of meekly passing, which would alert East to the probability that the opening lead was from three and not a singleton.

When many of my fellow bridge player columnists sing out in favor of bidding rather than passing, there are hands like this one to reinforce our optimistic approach.

Your 2nd question regarding making a game try and let partner make the decision is always well received by heretofore ignored partners, but, although it would work (although foiling declarer’s clever deception on this hand) on this hand, I prefer the bashing style and, after putting pressure on the opponents in the bidding, enjoying the result which was obtained.

Is bridge a great game or what? Thanks, as usual, for writing.