Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 14th, 2011

Dealer: East

Vul: East-West


Q J 5 3

K 9 6 4

J 10 9 6 4


K J 10 7

9 7 2

10 7 5 3

Q 2


A 3 2

A 10 6 4


A K 7 5 3


Q 9 8 6 5 4

K 8

Q J 8 2



South West North East
2 Pass Pass Dbl.
All Pass      

Opening Lead: Club Queen

“Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much;

Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.”

— William Cowper

Weak jump overcalls, especially when nonvulnerable, are all the rage these days. They gobble up vast tracts of bidding space, making detailed hand description difficult for opponents. But players, having developed weaponry with which to cope, are biting back.


Today’s hand arose in Canada, where internationals Eric Murray and John Carruthers show what can be done in defense, in spite of the adverse vulnerability.


East, Murray, opened one club, Darren Wolpert made a weak jump overcall of two spades, and since a double would have been negative, Carruthers passed. Murray reopened with a takeout double, which Carruthers turned into penalties by passing yet again.


In response to his partner’s opening bid, West led the club queen, on which Murray played the three, a request for a diamond switch, which he duly received.


On winning the diamond ace, Murray continued with the club ace, ruffed by South. Declarer’s heart king was allowed to hold, but East captured the heart continuation with the ace to return the club king, ruffed and overruffed. East ruffed West’s diamond switch, and South discarded a diamond on the club that came back. Carruthers ruffed, gave Murray another diamond ruff, trumped the fifth club, and that let East ruff West’s fourth diamond with the spade ace.


With the spade king still to come, East and West had made all seven of their trumps separately, as well as a trick in each other suit. Yes, 600 was available for East-West in three no-trump, but the 1100 gained on defense was surely far more satisfying.


South Holds:

4 3
K 6
10 7 6 3 2
10 8 5 4


South West North East
  1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 6
All Pass      
ANSWER: Declarer’s jump to slam without using Blackwood suggests he may have a lot of shape, perhaps with a diamond void. If that is so, maybe a club lead will let you get in with the heart king to give your partner a club ruff. There may be other leads that work, but the club lead is surely consistent with the evidence.


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


wallace LoewerNovember 30th, 2011 at 2:38 am

presume N-S partnershhip agreements allow a weak jump overcall on Qxxxxx, N with a void in Spades should know S will get his butt kicked when E doubled. What can or should N do at this point? 3D might be less painful, but how to get there?

Bobby WolffNovember 30th, 2011 at 5:49 am

Hi Wallace,

Without it being covered by many bridge teaching books or by bridge lecturers it makes good sense to play a final redouble as an SOS takeout. On the example hand above after West passes his partner reopening double, indicating a penalty pass (trumps stacked), if North now redoubles he asks his partner to pick his best 2nd suit (even if it is only 3 cards) in order to try and escape the hangman. On the above hand, partner will gladly takeout to 3 diamonds and even when doubled and trumps led declarer will take several more tricks than did the poor declarer above.

The rule to follow is that logically if somehow North was strong enough to be sure he is making 2 spades doubled, he then, of course, cannot redouble since that would be takeout.

Giving up a very small plus in order to vastly improve what too often does happen, is what good bridge strategy is all about. The answer for all bright relative beginners is to learn what is involved in bridge language (bidding) and then discuss the theory with one’s wonderful partner.

Thanks for the question and I sincerely hope that our readers understand and follow what and how to do it, as they develop their games.