Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Whate'er he did was done with so much ease,
In him alone, ’twas natural to please.

John Dryden

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

*Hearts and Diamonds


All the deals this week come from the NEC tournament held last year in Yokohama. When this board came up at upwards of 50 tables during the qualifying stages, ,many East-West pairs stopped in a spade partscore and made 140, which looks close to par.

But Federico Goded of Spain was full of admiration for his opponents here — not just because of the coup they had achieved in the bidding and play but because of the confidence that they had exhibited in both phases.

Matt Mullamphy, South, had overcalled three clubs to show the red suits. This was doubled by West to show cards and interest in defending against at least one of the suits. But when Ron Klinger passed three clubs doubled to show a real club suit, Mullamphy let it go as if without a care in the world, even though he was about to be declaring a doubled three-level contract with a trump suit of the doubleton 10!

Perhaps Miguel Goncalves should have seen the impending danger and have led a trump, but he actually led a top spade, and now the shift to a low trump came too late. Declarer ran the trump shift to his hand, crossed to the diamond ace to ruff a spade, and now could not be prevented from taking six club tricks, two diamonds and a spade ruff for an impressive plus 470. As we’ve remarked before — easy game, bridge.

You cannot do less than bid three diamonds. Your partner has guaranteed four diamonds and a little more than a dead minimum, so he should hardly find a three-level contract taxing. If he has anything in reserve, he may well be able to make game, and by raising diamonds you make it harder for the opponents to compete to three clubs if your partner has shape but not high cards.


♠ 10
 Q 9 8 6 4
 K J 8 6 5
♣ 10 7
South West North East
1♠ Pass
1 NT 2♣ 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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Howard Bigot-JohnsonFebruary 29th, 2012 at 6:47 pm

HBJ : I don’t care who I was partnering, but wild horses wouldn’t stop me bidding 3S over the 3C doubled.
Potentially, opposite a hand with values ( and West might well have hearts ) 3 spades has to be safe bet….alerting partner to the fact you have a decent 6 card spade suit. Moreover, if an expert North leaves the double in, then as sure as eggs are eggs he’s got clubs, and West’s suit is most likely diamonds.
To beat 140, defence have to beat 3C by 2 TRICKS…..which can’t be guaranteed on the above analysis.

bobby wolffFebruary 29th, 2012 at 7:16 pm


No doubt, no doubt, and a final, no doubt!

Trying to be practical one can understand how this disaster occurred. South’s bid showed a 2 suiter of both reds and West’s double probably just showed cards and, if anything, more defensive than offensive. However, as you so pointedly suggested, North’s pass showed at least a marked tolerance for clubs and South cooperated with a brilliant pass (we probably wouldn’t have written this hand up if it would have gone down several tricks).

Again your practical approach of bidding what is in front of your nose (3 spades) works and certainly takes the pressure off. However, would West have raised his partner to game, and if so, that questionable raise would then have been talked about, at least between the partners?

What is to learned?

1. Be practical and although usually one (East) would wait until NS would declare their suit before then guessing what to finally play (in this case being able to stop in 3 spades rather than go down in 4), no 2nd chance appeared for EW to strut their stuff.

2. Many hands (with this being one of them) hang on the thinnest thread, such as East, not North, holding the jack of clubs, which with a possible club lead would secure a magical +300 beating the par +140 which could be achieved by EW.

3. As a bridge philosopher used to tell me years ago when I was a pup and liked to discuss hands when they came up, trying to dissect them to better learn what to expect, “Always let the winner explain, since, at least on that hand, he was right on with result”. If we all followed his advice, no doubt South would still have the floor.

I love your enthusiasm and your gusto. Please, at least for me, do not change!

Ted BartunekFebruary 29th, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Over 3S from East wild horses wouldn’t stop me from bidding 4S as West! But actually I’m have trouble understanding why West would be suggesting defense, Vul against non-Vul opponents, when he’s holding 3 card (to two honors) support for partner and some other potentially useful values.

I am curious about North’s pass. Is it Bridge Standard that this shows clubs, or a matter of partnership understanding? How would North indicate that he has no red suit preference, and leave the decision to South?