Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

False though she be to me and love,
I’ll ne’er pursue revenge;
For still the charmer I approve,
Though I deplore her change.

Sir William Congreve

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


In today's deal, from a Far East Championship a few years ago, the defenders tricked declarer.

Three no-trump by North-South is untouchable, and it looks as if four hearts should be comfortable too, with the trump queen lying doubleton under the ace-jack — even if the defenders find their diamond ruff.

But in one match, West led the club seven, taken with dummy’s ace. Declarer continued with a low heart to the ace, under which West, L.H. Chin of the China Hong Kong Youth Team, smoothly dropped the queen. It now looked to declarer as if trumps were breaking 4-1 and that East had a natural trump trick.

Even had this been the case, declarer could still get home. However, reading West’s initial lead as top of a doubleton, and taking the heart queen at face value as a singleton, South decided that it was safe to ruff dummy’s losing clubs in hand, believing that West could not overruff. Declarer was shocked when, after cashing the club king and ruffing a third club, West overruffed with the 10. Chin made no mistake with his continuation: ace and another diamond, ruffed by East, who then promptly cashed the spade ace for the setting trick.

Had West not false-carded, declarer would have drawn trump, of course, and sailed home easily.

Whenever you hold a 5-4 hand pattern, you should be happy if you can bid out your shape economically rather than settling for playing no-trump and hoping your decision is correct. Yes, there are hands where no-trump will play better than a suit; equally, bidding your hand will help partner in the auction, especially with how far to compete if the opponents bid again.


♠ 6 3
 K J 8 5 2
 J 2
♣ A K 9 8
South West North East
1 1♠ 1 NT 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


jim2January 4th, 2012 at 6:34 pm

This is another bidding quiz that has me baffled.

I would pass and cannot see the merit in the answer of 2C.

I like to bid out my pattern as much as the next player, but partner’s limit bid has made it clear that this is a part score hand and we’re almost certainly sitting in the best one right where we are.

My heart suit is broken, and partner’s points are most likely in the pointed suits. If partner has clubs, they will take tricks in 1N just as well as in any club part score, and maybe not so well in any red contract.

If I do bid 2C, what would I do over partner’s 2D? Pass and hope that partner somehow bid 1N with better diamonds than our hearts (and that we didn’t just find our 4-2 fit)? Rebid that broken heart suit? Rebid my 4-card club suit? Invite with 2N on the basis of that sterile 12-count? Ugh!

If partner does not bid 2D, the next most likely bid is surely 2H with a doubleton. Unless it is the magic Ax/Qx, that is a horrible contract! Even if pard puts down a magic honor doubleton, do I really want to play there with the diamond forces which that heart holding (thus no diamond honors) and auction would make inevitable?

Bobby WolffJanuary 4th, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Hi Jim2,

Since there are so many possibilities for different holdings by the 1NT responder, it seems to me a favorable percentage move by the opener to rebid a 4 card suit with an original 2-5-2-4 rather than just pass and not explore better contracts, particularly so at IMPs.

If partner now ventures 2 diamonds he will almost always hold a singleton heart and fewer than 4 clubs making him certain to have at least a very good 5 card suit or possibly even 6, normally having then only 1 spade stop, e.g. Kxxx, x, KQxxxx, xx or maybe Axx, xx, KQ10xx, Jxx.

Never will he have only 4 diamonds as the opening bidder is showing at least 9 cards in the rounded suits and possibly 10. Partner cannot afford to bid even a fairly weak 5 card suit since both partners have now become limit bidders and must be prepared to play the contract right there, opposite a singleton when partner might easily be 3-5-1-4.

It is very important for you to sort out limit bid situations, which immediately warns both partners that only searching out the right strain (suit) is the object and at the very lowest level possible. If partner returns to 2 hearts, while with only 2 (90% of the time) it still figures to be playable even though the dummy might have 2 small.

Always remember that bridge, as we know it, is not anywhere near an exact science, and having to play a difficult part score contract often happens and as a result the declarer’s play of the person doing it, will improve in time, all part of the maturation of a hoped for future excellent player.

I’ll also venture my opinion in that while going through the icky part of having to play less than elegant contracts and still enjoying to do it, is the sign of one who really loves the game and recognizes the warts involved, but still chugs onward.