Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday July 27th, 2011

Vulnerable: Both

Dealer: South


Q 4 2

Q 10 8

7 4 2

J 10 6 3


A 3

K 4 3 2

Q J 8 3

Q 8 4


10 9 8 5


K 10 9 6 5

9 7 2


K J 7 6

A J 7 6 5


A K 5


South West North East
2 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass
4 All pass

Opening Lead: Diamond queen

“Vicissitudes of fortune, which spares neither man nor the proudest of his works, which buries empires and cities in a common grave.”

— Edward Gibbon

During the first day of the Swiss Teams last summer in New Orleans,, JoAnna Stansby found herself in a delicate heart game, but read the position nicely to bring home a big swing for her side.

JoAnna won the diamond ace and led a low trump to the queen and East’s nine, a revealing spot card, since it alerted declarer to the possibility of bad trump breaks. She next led a spade to the 10, king and ace, ruffed the diamond return, then cashed the club ace and crossed to the spade queen to ruff another diamond and extract West’s exit card.

She had now reached a position where she needed four of the last six tricks, but was down to two trumps in each hand while West had king-third of trump left. However, when she next led the spade jack from her hand, West was in a quandary. He chose to ruff (nothing else was any better, since if he discards a diamond, declarer ruffs his spade loser in dummy and plays clubs from the top). West was now on lead and endplayed in three suits. A trump or club would give up his natural trick in those suits, so he elected to play a fourth diamond, but the ruff and discard let declarer ruff in dummy and pitch her club loser.

She could cash the club king, ruff her fourth spade in dummy, and concede just one more trump trick, losing one trump and two spades in total.


South holds:

Q 4 2
Q 10 8
7 4 2
J 10 6 3


South West North East
1 2 Dbl.
ANSWER: If you play, as I prefer to do, that two-level overcalls promise decent hands and good suits (typically a six-carder unless the overcaller has a good five-carder with compensating extra high-cards), then this hand is a no-brainer. You must raise to three clubs to take away a round of the auction from your opponents. The raise is a quasi-pre-emptive action, not a game-try.


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


Jeff SAugust 10th, 2011 at 3:22 pm

I thought West would take the KH on the first round of trumps (as it is very hard to place the AH with partner) and lead back a trump reasoning there is likely a 4-1 split and then lead a third round of trump later after taking the AS.

If West follows this policy of leading trumps at every chance, can South still make her contract?

Bobby WolffAugust 10th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Hi Jeff,

Yes, since West will enable declarer to, after knocking out West’s queen of clubs, to enter dummy via the queen of spades and throw his losing spade on the good 4th club in dummy.

Declarer will then lose only 1 spade, 1 trump and 1 club. The defense does best to force declarer to trump therefore threatening declarer with losing a 2nd trump trick, which declarer then counters with throwing West in, and forcing him to lead a club into the tenace or give him a sluff and ruff allowing declarer to not lose a club trick.

Ted BAugust 10th, 2011 at 7:56 pm

If, after opening 2C, North’s rebid is 2NT, 3C or 3D, how should South continue? I would have opened 1H with the South hand on the assumption that I may need the extra room to describe it, and really don’t want to be in game opposite a partner who can’t respond to 1H. However, should the North hand bid opposite a 1H opener?

Mark WilsonAugust 10th, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Nothing so erudite as the other comments. In today’s Arizona Republic the comments and diagrammed hand did nor match. So, in looking for a contact point (the email address published with the column failed) found this blog. You might think about adding this website’s address to your column rather than the faulty email address. I find this blog quiye interesting.

Bobby WolffAugust 10th, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Hi Ted,

Although, after deciding to open 2 clubs, there are good players who would rebid 2NT, very much of a distortion, and partner would have no reason not to raise to 3NT. Even if the partnership is playing Puppet Stayman (looking for a 5 card major), anyone who says he would use it on that balanced hand is unrealistic and that is being very kind to him or her. It is never a sure thing to predict the opening lead so we will not get into that except to say that if diamonds are led, gone will be either IMPs or matchpoint.

No, with the weak hand I would pass my partner’s one heart opening otherwise my partner will always have to soft pedal it whenever his partner does keep it open.

At least in the bridge world, a good partner needs to think of you as, above all, consistent first and multi talented no higher than 2nd. Just like a successful marriage, partners need to exhibit loyalty and total concentration to the task ahead in order for them to move up the ladder.

Yes, I could accept a 1H opening, but if forced to choose I would open 2 clubs and then bid hearts.

Good luck.

Bobby WolffAugust 10th, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the information. Unfortunately the bridge editors at the client newspapers rarely play bridge themselves, so what happened to you seems to occur much too frequently, but I, as an author am not supposed to contact a newspaper, leaving it up to frustrated readers to voice alarm.

Your idea of notification of where to find the column (2 weeks delayed) so that you can be privy to the discussion is a great idea, but it would be necessary for my syndicate to approve such a practice. I’ll look into what needs to be done.

Thanks for the kind words and welcome to the site.

Ted BAugust 11th, 2011 at 12:04 am

I guess I didn’t express that part of my question well. Let me try again. If South opens 2C, North bids 2D and South rebids 2H, what will South bid next if North does not support Hearts? Could you realistically find a 4-4 Spade fit, or would you have to hope NT will work?

Bobby WolffAugust 11th, 2011 at 6:16 am

HI Ted,

Once bidding hearts and having partner not supporting but rather bidding possibly 3 clubs or 3 diamonds, I would then choose to bid 3 spades over 3 clubs and then over 3NT belatedly support partner by bidding 4 clubs. That picture bidding pinpoints the singleton diamond and sets up ruffs in the short trump hand.

However if partner rebids the more likely 3 diamonds I might eschew bidding spades for the simplicity of risking a 3NT call. Many good players would bid 3 spades over either response by partner and leave it up to him to bid 3NT when it turns out to be right.

In case I have not said it before (in truth it is my calling card), bridge is not an exact science but rather one of good judgment needed to compete among the world’s top players.

I hope I have satisfied your curiosity of, at least one man’s opinion, on what to do.