Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 27th, 2012

To say silly things by chance and weakness is a common misfortune, but to say them intentionally is intolerable.

Blaise Pascal

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


In today's deal from the Gold Coast tournament the 3-1 heart break suggests that no game can be made against best defense. But who puts up the best defense?

When Michelle Brunner was South, she played in four hearts on a top club lead. She could not afford to duck for fear of the diamond shift, so she won and played the spade king. West won, and now needed to play a trump at once; not unreasonably, he cashed the club queen before playing the trump 10, and Brunner now read the position perfectly.

She won the trump ace, played the spade queen, ruffed a spade, went to the diamond ace, and led another spade. If East discarded, she would pitch her club loser and play a second trump. When East ruffed in, she overruffed, ruffed a club to dummy, and gave up just the one trump trick.

At another table Pablo Lambardi declared game as North. East led a top diamond and was allowed to hold the trick. This is the sort of deal where partnerships playing count signals will (justly) find themselves at a loss. How can West let East know what to do, since he cannot really afford to overtake the diamond king?

As it was, when the diamond king held the trick, West showing an even number, East continued the suit. Now declarer simply won and drove out the spade ace to establish two discards for dummy’s club losers.

A convention invented simultaneously by Robert Jordan and Alan Truscott 50 years ago allows responder to show a limit range (after a major suit has been doubled) by jumping to two no-trump. Jump support shows, instead, a pre-emptive raise. It is easy to extend this principle to use it after a minor has been doubled. With a balanced hand you can start by redoubling.


♠ 7 6 2
 K J 7
 K Q 10 6
♣ J 8 7
South West North East
1 Dbl.

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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Jeff HFebruary 10th, 2012 at 3:16 pm

On today’s bidding quiz, even given your explanation it is not clear whether the better bid is 2NT of redouble. The hand is certainly balanced, but has great support for parnter’s diamonds. I think I might be inclined to bid 2NT on this particulat hand.

Bobby WolffFebruary 10th, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Hi Jeff H,

Because of what you mention the choice is indeed, very close.

However, I, personally, would choose redouble, choosing 2NT when holding FIVE of partner’s suit and 9-11. The difference is that, when partner knows he will buy at least 5 of his longest minor in dummy, it becomes more of an offensive hand, especially for 3NT,e.g. Kx, Qxx, K10xxx, Q10x and much less for defense, which an initial redouble, and for years, has suggested.

MikeFebruary 10th, 2012 at 6:49 pm

The question is what to do after 1D – X – XX – 1S – P – P? Does one then bid 2D to show a hand with no S stopper and 4 (may be 3?) D and limit hand? If 2N shows 5+ D limit hand, then does one have to jump to 3D after XX – 1S – P – P to show GF D hand?

Bobby WolffFebruary 10th, 2012 at 8:07 pm


Yes, after one redoubles and then jumps the next round, that bid should be forcing to at least 4 diamonds. With the example hand and holding only 4 diamonds along with 3-3-3 in the other suits I would bid 2 diamonds at IMPs but 1NT at match points, a distortion (with no stop), but typically looking for a higher trick score at MP’s.

Bobby WolffFebruary 10th, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Hi still again Mike,

Having felt that my last comment is incomplete I would like to add the following:

Since there is no doubt that by, after redoubling, then bidding 1NT with no stopper that there is a likely chance that the hand will be played from the wrong side, although also likely that it might not matter (in this case, two likelies, each about 50%, sometimes equals one whole). I would suggest partner with a balanced minimum and, of course at least 1 spade stop to not pass it around to you, but rather bid 1NT himself, which you would, of course, pass. The next question might be, is that if partner does pass should we then always bid 2 diamonds, and my reply would be, no, I would risk partner having something like Jxx, or 2 or 3 little and NT will still score higher.

After I previously commented I felt guilty that this extra suggestion was not incorporated in my previous comment.

Good luck!