Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

I toss my head, and so does he;
What tricks he dares to play on me!

Michael Field

North North
Both ♠ 10 5 4
 K 4 3 2
♣ A 9 7 6 4
West East
♠ Q J 8 3
 Q 5
 K J 10 5
♣ 10 5 3
♠ 9 7 6
 A J 8 7 6
♣ K Q J 8
♠ A K 2
 10 9
 A Q 9 8 7 6 3
♣ 2
South West North East
Pass 1
2 Pass Pass Dbl.
All pass      


Imagine that you are West defending against two diamonds doubled. You elect to lead the spade queen. Declarer crosses to the club ace, ruffs a club, and advances the spade two. Over to you.

In this deal from a recent invitational pairs event, Zia had the South cards and must have been surprised to be doubled in two diamonds with such a good hand. When Marcin Lesniewski left his partner’s double in and led the spade queen, Zia won, cashed the club ace, ruffed a club and sneakily led a low spade toward dummy’s 10! When Lesniewski ducked this (and we’ve all made worse plays than that), Zia could put up the spade 10, ruff another club, cash the spade king, and exit with the heart nine.

This traveled around to the five, king and ace. East could lead trump once, but Zia simply ducked this to West. Lesniewski could cash his heart queen but then had to exit with his last spade. Zia scored his third low trump and exited with a low trump. West won, and had to concede the last two trump tricks to South for a doubled overtrick.

At another table South found himself in three diamonds doubled. On the lead of the spade queen, declarer crossed to the club ace and rather naively took the diamond finesse. From that point on, declarer could not avoid going down two for a penalty of 500.

Your partner has shown both minors and a really good hand. Thus in context your additional club length looks very useful. Rather than going overboard, make a quiet call of two no-trump to suggest a heart stop and a hand you are not ashamed of. The alternative would be to jump to four clubs (I might do that with the heart ace and club king, where I knew my honors were pulling their weight).


♠ 10 5 4
 K 4 3 2
♣ A 9 7 6 4
South West North East
1♣ 1
2♣ Pass 2 Pass

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


MikeDecember 28th, 2011 at 3:04 pm

On the bidding hand, with 5 C, after partner’s reverse, how about bidding 2H instead of 2N? Presumably opener has 5 C (possibly more), in NT, the two hands will generate 5 tricks in C if it plays for no losers, but it will generate at least 2 more tricks playing in C. Partner does not know you have 5 C. With AQx, x, KQJT, KQJxx, would he not bid 3N after 2N? What if he has AQx, A, KQJT, KJTxx? He would also bid 3N, but now 6C is cold.

JaneDecember 28th, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Hi Bobby,

I don’t understand why west does not lead the heart queen since his partner opened with a heart. Looks like the contract has a good chance of going down one with the heart lead. What am I missing?

Thanks in advance, as always.

Bobby WolffDecember 28th, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Hi Mike,

First, let me recognize your natural bridge talent for selecting a cue bid instead of NT, because of your unbalanced distribution and fine playing hand mainly because of holding 5, instead of only 4 clubs.

In answer to your direct question of why 2NT instead of 2H, a cue bid in this type of situation, and after limiting one’s hand by bidding (2 only clubs), is to either show a control or in some cases, ask for one, e.g. (Axx, Jxx, xxx, Axxx). In most cases either holding the K(x) or QJ(x) of the opponents suit it would be customary to chirp NT to, of course, suggest NT as the cheapest and most likely game to be bid (only 9 tricks needed).

In this particular hand, holding a singleton and 5 trumps I will agree with you that 2 hearts is probably a better action. However do not discount partner’s possible hand of: QJx, x, AKQx, KJxxx or even slightly better but with 3 quick losers. How about: holding only AKx of diamonds and a 6 card club suit, but still with 3 losers in tow.

Partner will not venture NT himself (over your 2 heart cue), holding only a singleton heart, nor should he, but in spite of that, I still prefer your choice of 2 hearts, but the decision is probably close.
Happy holidays to you and thanks for writing, together with your intelligent comments.

Bobby WolffDecember 28th, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Hi Jane,

You, as usual, are not missing a thing and yes, your suggested heart lead (after all, your partner did bid the suit) would set the hand, but this was a real hand with hearts being bid both times it was played and in both instances West opted for the queen of spades lead. Of course, partner (in at least one case) had doubled back in, usually indicating good support for the other major, but this time his support was minimal.

Also Zia uses his imagination as well as it can be, by picturing problems he then uses to bamboozle his victims.

In other than bridge news, today I read of the chimpanzee, Cheetah of Tarzan fame, dying at the age of 80 (chimpanzees, according to his obituary usually live to 35-45, but not much longer than that, making him unusual, and probably suggesting that he did very little monkeying around during his very long life.

Of course, your name being Jane is always a constant reminder of the adventurous Tarzan movies I never missed in my young (yes I was young once) days.

Thanks as always for your interest, bridge love, and for asking questions I sincerely enjoy answering.