Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, November 18th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: Both


A K 7

10 9 8 2


A 9 7 6 2


10 6 5 4 2


K 10 8 3

8 5 3


Q J 9

6 5 3

J 9 7 6 4 2



8 3

A Q J 7 4


Q J 10 4


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
3 Pass 3 Pass
4 Pass 6 All Pass

Opening Lead: Club Three

“In thy breast are the stars of thy fate.”

— Johann von Schiller

As the story goes, the famous French player Roger Trezel was sitting South, playing in a tournament against an exceedingly pretty lady in the West seat who was wearing a very low-cut dress. This was the first of the two boards.


Trezel, who had reached a delicate slam, was treated to a low club lead. Fearing it was a singleton, he went up with the club ace, intending to rely on the heart finesse to make the slam. Lo and behold, when he played the ace, the singleton club king fell from East! So Trezel had gotten it right, up to a point. Somebody did indeed have a singleton club.


But now Trezel realized there was no need to risk the heart finesse, since there was a great danger that if the finesse lost, the lady would give her partner a club ruff. But there was no need to take any risk here. Trezel simply played the heart ace, expecting to knock out the heart king and surrender just one trick in due course. Much to his surprise, and certainly his pleasure, the singleton heart king fell from West!


So Trezel wrapped up 13 tricks, losing to neither singleton king! Later, however, he overheard his right-hand opponent, shaken from losing both kings, discussing the hand. “From the moment we sat down at the table, that young man was craning his neck, looking unashamedly into my partner’s cards. No wonder we didn’t make either king.”


South Holds:

8 3
A Q J 7 4
Q J 10 4


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Pass 1 Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
ANSWER: Your two-club call created a game force, but your partner’s hand is undefined as to range. He rates to have a minimum balanced hand, but you don’t have to decide for him. Raise to three hearts, suggesting that you are interested in slam and letting him cue-bid if he has anything in reserve.


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


jim2December 2nd, 2011 at 1:20 pm

I have a bidding Q both for the columnh hand and the quiz one.

In the column, could North have bid 4S instead of jumping to 6H? Other than tactics of bidding to the right spot when one recognizes it (eschewing further science), when would one bid 4S?

Similarly, in the quiz hand, I take 3H to confirm 5-cards in the suit, but 3D also seems a reasonable choice. When would you bid 3D instead?

Bobby WolffDecember 2nd, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Hi Jim2,

Both of your questions require direct answers and so I will attempt to answer them.

First of all this hand either really happened or was contrived, but even if it didn’t it still makes a good story. North should definitely have responded 4 spades and not the unilateral action of merely 6 hearts. However Roger Trezel was playing many years ago, back when science in bridge was only a gleam in some player’s eyes and not a serious requirement of all top level partnerships.

To not bid 4 spades instead, as you indeed wonder, would be one of the seven deadly sins as determined by Aces training and be charged with unilateral action, regardless of the final result.

Within today’s popular 2 over 1 system, South could very well have enough such as the KQ of clubs and solid hearts to make the grand slam a laydown, but might be warned off bidding it by his partner’s impulsive action with him up and bidding 6 hearts.

On the BWTA hand, yes, South may have elected to bid 4 diamonds to show strength there, also being a slam try instead of merely basically marking time with his 3 heart choice. The only negative by so doing might be the implication of 3 card support for partner’s original suit, which could possibly introduce some confusion in eventually determining the strain, particularly so for slam.

However, I would deem the holding of both the Ace and Queen of partner’s suit would be a better choice than would be 3 hearts. Also it would begin to show where the responder’s side values are, also important for slam investigation. However the Jack of hearts is also a solidifying card which perhaps justifies the three heart bid.

In summary these choices are judgments, not ordained in any kind of master bridge journal and one learns to mesh with partner’s judgment after bidding many hands with him or her to learn what partner tends to want to convey.

All the above is somewhat vague and possibly too confusing, but “little by little we can do great things” if one of our goals is to learn what partner thinks most important.


Good luck as you put various bridge discussions into perspective and hopefully you will eventually one very fine day, get a chance to form your own world class partnership.