Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Oft expectation fails, and most oft there
Where most it promises.

William Shakespeare

East North
Neither ♠ 4
 A 4
 A Q J 9 4 3 2
♣ 6 5 4
West East
♠ 7
 K Q 10 8 7 6 5
 8 7
♣ Q J 2
♠ 8 6 5 2
 9 3 2
♣ A K 10 8 7
♠ A K Q J 10 9 3
 K 6 5
♣ 9 3
South West North East
1♠ 3 3 NT 4
4 NT Pass 6 Pass
6 NT Pass Pass Dbl.
7♠ All pass    


Absolute par on today's tournament deal would see North-South double six hearts, since they have 11 tricks in spades, while East and West have only 10 in hearts. As happens so often, par was not achieved at any of the eight tables in play. On the contrary, a few North-South pairs managed to beat par handily. Today's deal is the most extreme example. Zia Mahmood was North; Tony Forrester, South.

When the six-no-trump bid came around to Paul Chemla, it looked so much like the final contract that he ventured a double, knowing he would also be on lead if they ran to diamonds. Nonetheless, against Tony Forrester, you had better think twice before giving him an opening, however small.

Realizing that West would be on lead against a spade contract, Tony retreated to seven spades, and then it was up to Alain Levy to work out what exactly was going on. Levy’s heart-holding marked Zia with the ace in that suit. Thus the double really had to be based on the top clubs. However, on Levy’s actual heart lead, Forrester racked up the grand slam.

At another table, after the same first three bids, one East thoughtfully joined in with four clubs to get his club lead against a spade contract. As a passed hand he could not have just clubs or he would already have acted. In fact, this led to West’s buying the hand in five hearts doubled, which cost only 100.

The auction might suggest that North has four spades. However, after a negative double, North will frequently introduce spades on a three-card suit if he has no proper heart stop. Since your red-suit holding strongly argues for caution, you should pass, letting North repeat his spades if he really has four of them.


♠ 8 6 5 2
 9 3 2
♣ A K 10 8 7
South West North East
1 1
Dbl. Pass 1♠ 2

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


JaneDecember 16th, 2011 at 7:15 pm


What was the six diamond bid supposed to show over four NT? I also don’t understand the four NT bid either. Was that ace asking, to play, or something else. Could north bid four diamonds over the three heart bid? I know this hand is one of those for entertainment value, but how should us lowly mortals bid it?


Bobby WolffDecember 17th, 2011 at 3:42 am

Hi Jane,

I’m pretty sure that North took South’s 4NT bid to play it there, and consequently jumped to 6 diamonds in response to that judgment. After all, his original 3NT bid was off beat and so they were playing an oft played game of “last bidder gets the zero” Very little discipline, only seat of the pants bidding with almost an anything goes philosophy.

When there is so much preempting, it becomes more of a poker game than bridge and good judgment is king.