Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Vulnerable: East-West

Dealer: South


Q 3

Q 8

K Q 10 9 8 4

J 8 4


J 8 6 2

9 7 2

J 7 6 2

7 5


K 10 5

J 10 6 5


K 10 9 3 2


A 9 7 4

A K 4 3

A 5

A Q 6


South West North East
2 NT Pass 3 * Pass
3 NT Pass 4 ** Pass
4 Pass 5 Pass
6 All pass

*Transfer to three no-trump to show diamonds

**A diamond slam-try

Opening Lead: Spade two

“But evil is wrought by want of thought,

As well as want of heart.”

— Thomas Hood

If your bridge is confined to the rubber bridge table or events where dealing is done manually, you are perhaps used to being treated kindly as far as bad breaks are concerned. Human dealers tend to be lazy, and insufficient shuffling leads to more-balanced hands. All tournaments (and most clubs, too) these days use computer dealing, when the actual distribution should equate to the theoretical distribution, so you need to be more prepared for bad breaks.

Sometimes unfriendly distribution can easily be overcome: all you need do is keep your head and not panic.

At one table, South opened two no-trump and North-South’s methods were such that he ended up as declarer in the good six diamonds, West choosing a spade lead.

Superficially it looks as if South rates to lose a diamond and a trick in one of the black suits, but watch what happened. Declarer tried the spade queen from dummy and won East’s king with his ace. Not being psychic, he then played the diamond ace and king. When he discovered the bad news, he realized he needed to reduce dummy’s trumps twice.

He played three rounds of hearts, discarding a spade from the table, and ruffed a spade. He then played a club to his queen, cashed the club ace and ruffed another spade. This left dummy with the diamond queen and 10, and a losing club. Declarer now exited with a club, and had to make two diamond tricks at the end.


South holds:

K 10 5
J 10 6 5
K 10 9 3 2


South West North East
2 2 Pass
ANSWER: You are obviously worth a raise of spades. Here, your singleton diamond rates to be useful, but your soft high-cards are not guaranteed to be pulling their full weight. This hand seems worth no more than a raise to three spades, rather than a cue-bid raise of three diamonds, which ought to be a somewhat better hand.


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


jim2June 22nd, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Another line of play with essentially identical chances also works:

– 2S – Q – K – A

– AD

– KD

– QD (pitching C, West now has master trump)

– QH

– AH

– KH (pitching board’s remaining spade)

– S ruff

– C finesse

– S ruff

– AC

– S ruff, though a H lead to score the last trump en passant may be more elegant

jim2June 22nd, 2011 at 2:05 pm

On the bidding quiz, was the opening 2D a weak 2?

I ask because your card w/Morse says you play Flannery. If the opponents also were playing Flannery, would the “answer” be the same? What if they were playing Precision or even Strong 2s?

Bobby WolffJune 23rd, 2011 at 10:19 am

Hi Jim2,

Please excuse my delay in answering your comments since I am now playing in the LV Regional.

Yes, the line of play that you have suggested in the trump coup hand is just as successful, proving the old adage of many ways to skin a cat. The idea is always the same, but bridge does sometimes lend itself to successful choices.

Basically with all the possible common meanings to a 2 diamond opening, weak, Flannery, Precision and strong 2 bids, I would find a way to raise my partner’s 2 spade bid to probably 3, although with both Flannery and Precision the opponent will either definitely or in the case of Precision likely also hold 4 spades.

All the above is factored in my raise, but the idea is to support partner, but not get him past a safety level, if in fact our trump fit may be in for a bad split.

Bridge is NOT an exact science with mature judgment required for success, however, to pull in one’s horns and not attempt to make life more difficult for good opponents is a formula for losing, if, as in this case, you don’t at least let partner know which suit you want led and in this example, it appears to be clearly, spades.

We should have made it clear in the column hand that this 2 diamond bid was weak, but your question may have cleared up a question concerning other possible meanings as well.