Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, February 27th, 2012

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

Samuel Smiles

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




These days it is considered normal to open a no-trump with a five-card major, so long as your hand is balanced and falls in the appropriate range.

Even hands with a five-card minor and a four-card heart suit, or with five clubs and four diamonds may be appropriate for a strong no-trump, so long as the hand is at the minimum end of the range and has an honor in each of your doubletons. If not, some other treatment of the hand is probably more appropriate.

When you open one no-trump, you often lose your 5-3 major fits; but as today’s deal indicates, that may be no bad thing! Witness what happened to the majority today, who were playing strong no-trumps. They located the 5-3 spade fit and played four spades, often doubled and down at least a trick.

Sartaj Hans of Australia was the only South player to make a game here; he played three no-trump after West had shown up with the majors. He was treated to a low spade lead and exploited dummy’s assets to the full by putting in the seven, holding the trick. With the knowledge of unfriendly splits around the place, he then made the expert’s safety play of leading a low diamond from the board at once toward his 10, trying to guarantee four diamond tricks for his side.

Whether East went in with his jack to shift to a heart or ducked, that was a sure nine tricks for declarer.

Your partner's double is Lightner – asking for an unusual lead, here typically dummy's first bid suit unless you have a holding in a side-suit that suggests he has a void there. In this case you do not need to look further than a low club for your lead; perhaps partner has a void and a cashing ace.


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


David WarheitMarch 12th, 2012 at 9:41 am

There is one little detail not mentioned. If east goes up with the diamond jack at trick two and returns a club, south must play the jack or he loses the only entry to dummy after he cashes the ten of diamonds. One of the wonderful things about our favorite game is that a situation can present itself and we know the right way to play the suit, but there is that one in a hundred occasion when the right way to play a suit is not the right way to play the hand.

bobby wolffMarch 12th, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Hi David,

Your philosophical advice about our game is as right as you can be and often one is faced with applying that logic, especially to both the defense and play of the hand.

Add to that the judgment to be developed in the bidding which again has to be directly applied to the number of tricks contracted for in the determination of the contract.

Is it then any wonder that the simple term of numeracy, as applied to playing good bridge, is usually the measuring stick in judging just how good that player can become in the worldwide bridge world?

Should then, that term be thought of as something magical, a talent which a person is born with, and allows his genius to fluorish, similar to a great artist or an equally great musician?

Probably not, since numeracy (the continual thinking of numbers as applied to life) is much more common than the other ones mentioned above. However, or at least it so seems, without it, and/or unless it is well cultivated, my guess is that an invisible ceiling will disenable an otherwise very bright person, from reaching the higher lofts of bridge excellence.