Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Dealer: West

Vul: Both



A J 9 7 6

A 9 8 5

J 7 6


10 9 8 5 3

Q 8

Q 7 4

9 8 5


A K 7 6

10 5 4 3 2


A 4 2


Q 4 2


K J 10 6 3

K Q 10 3


South West North East
  Pass 1 Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
2 NT Pass 3 Pass
3 NT All Pass    

Opening Lead: Spade 10

“Good families are generally worse than any others.”

— Robert South

Michael Seamon of Florida is part of one of the most distinguished families of bridge, four of his family having participated successfully in world championships. Seamon found a fine play in this deal from a recent U.S. trial — based on a second-degree assumption of how he needed the cards to lie.


Seamon’s call of two diamonds was forcing to game, so his quiet two-no-trump bid on the second round did not end the auction. North’s failure to raise diamonds directly had suggested that he had only three diamonds — hence the decision to play the inferior no-trump game.


West led the spade nine to the jack and king, and East returned a low spade to Seamon’s queen. Declarer had a spade trick now, but was still a long way from home. He needed to find the diamond queen and also to negotiate the heart suit for three tricks — a fairly unlikely combination of events.


However, his first move was to cash the heart king, noting the fall of West’s eight. Needing this to be from shortness (specifically the queen-doubleton), Seamon inferred that all the probabilities in that case would indicate that West would have longer diamonds than East. He backed his judgment by cashing the diamond king and finessing West for the queen on the next round. When the heart ace brought down the queen, he had nine tricks without touching clubs — a game swing. It was a hand for us all to admire.


South Holds:

A J 9 7 6
A 9 8 5
J 7 6


South West North East
  3 3 Pass
ANSWER: What an unpleasant choice! You can pass pessimistically, raise to four spades, or bid four hearts. All of these calls are seriously flawed, but the spade raise at least offers partner a trump honor and two aces, so it would be my choice.


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


angelo romanoSeptember 25th, 2011 at 9:59 am

in te bidding hand, what about 3NT ? A 3 Clubs opening shouldn’t be from AKQ, and third hand didn’t raise; the clubs could be blocked or partner have Qx; even a stiff K could be enough. And if partner goes back to 4 Spades, that’s great !

Bobby WolffSeptember 25th, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Hi Angelo,

Bravo, on your choice of 3NT relying on what your nose tells you about the probable club layout.

In real life and against high or reasonably high-level opponents, most will not have solid clubs and still open 3 clubs, since they will often choose a 1 club opener because of the plentiful trick potential it will offer.

However, for public consumption 3NT is just a bit off the beaten path, also scary, and believe it or not would be hard to justify if partner had 6 semi-solid spades and another high card (or two) and passed confidently expecting you, of course, to have clubs stopped.

All of the above is not in any way critical of your (and probably my) preference to unilateral my choice to 3NT.

Good luck and at least in this forum will not have to suffer any kind of a defeat by our possibly minority choice.

John Howard GibsonSeptember 25th, 2011 at 9:13 pm

HBJ : Hi there again. It is my contention that when a defender kicks of with a 9 from a long honourless suit, he/she might be hoping to set it up relying on outside entries in their own hand to get them in.

If however a defender has a blizzard…..he/she might well look to establish their partner’s possible long suit relying on him/her to have the necessary entries to set it up.

On this premise, the odds favour West to hold the queen of diamonds…….and perhaps the Qx doubleton in hearts ?

Playing on clubs just guarantees defeat.

Hands like this I call prayer mat deals, because you have to ask God for certain cards to be right. Yours Johnny Supremo

Jeff HSeptember 25th, 2011 at 9:24 pm

I agree with Angelo’s comment about bidding 3NT. I have heard one expert quoted as saying that after an opponent’s preempt, if 3NT is a possible contract, bid it. This would be applicable here.