Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Vulnerable: Both

Dealer: North

Send, Dealer: North


8 7 6 5

J 10 7

A K 2

8 6 4



K Q 4 3 2

J 9 8 7 4

Q 2


A J 3 2

8 6 5

10 6 3

9 7 3


Q 10 9 4

A 9

Q 5

A K J 10 5


South West North East
Pass Pass
1 NT 2 * Dbl.** 3
3 Pass 4 All pass

* and a minor


Opening Lead: Heart king

“Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter,

— Lord Byron

Pony Nehmert was one of the few declarers to survive in four spades, played in last year’s European Championships, from which all this week’s deals come.

North led the heart king, and declarer won with the ace and played three rounds of diamonds, disposing of her losing heart. She next ran the spade eight to West’s king and ruffed the return of the heart queen.

Declarer now asked herself: why West was forcing declarer to ruff. Nehmert decided that there was a strong indication that trumps were 4-1, so rather than play a spade, relying on 3-2 trumps and a winning guess in clubs, she cashed the top clubs, felling West’s queen. She continued with the club 10, and when West discarded, declarer played a fourth club, ruffing with dummy’s spade five. East could overruff, but there was only one more trump trick available for the defense. Whatever East led, declarer could arrange to finesse against the trump A-J.

Four spades failed at the other table, so Nehmert’s play had earned Germany a big swing.

(Incidentally, West had missed a difficult chance at trick five — that of leading a diamond, offering up a ruff and discard, which would have allowed East to discard a club. Then, if declarer plays a trump off dummy, East can go up with the ace and play a heart, which secures trump control for the defenders if declarer ruffs. If South discards, West wins the heart queen and plays a club to leave East with two trump winners.)


South holds:

Q 10 9 4
A 9
Q 5
A K J 10 5


South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
ANSWER: You have too many values and too much shape to pass now. It looks best to try for game, rather than go all the way on your own. The choice is to reraise to three (which typically shows six) or to use the fourth-suit call of two , which is more flexible but might get you to no-trump from the wrong side. Nevertheless, I prefer the latter course of action.


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


jim2July 6th, 2011 at 4:20 pm

How would you rate 2N?

Bobby WolffJuly 6th, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Hi Jim2,

Very highly and would be my secret choice. Perhaps it has been an illusion, but it seems to me that an attempt at NT, holding Qx in the unbid suit wins a lot more often than it figures to.

1, It may be the right contract, and if so it is almost certainly now played by the right declarer with a diamond lead coming up to you

2. Sometimes the opening leader disdains the unbid suit, because he is quite sure the bidder is well healed and expecting a diamond lead.

3. To bid 2NT is a good example of “running to daylight” wherein if it works something large (making a close game) is gained.

4. I’ve always had my toughest luck playing against bold partnerships, probably all because of the above reasons.

5. My advice is to try it and you might like it, but be prepared, when it does not work, for criticism from teammates and sometimes funny looks from kibitzers.

6. However, when something seems to work, for whatever reason, do not abandon the idea.