Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, April 12th, 2012

I can stand a waste of praise.

R.S. Surtees

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


Today's deal was reported earlier this year in Le Bridgeur, Philippe Cronier's French language summary of the tournament world. The deal was played by Sylvie Willard, who, along with Benedicte Cronier, has played on all the successful French teams of the last six years.

Their partnership is unusual for its longevity and also — I’m sure not coincidentally — for the fact that both players are universally popular with their teammates and opponents. They are viewed as genuinely nice people and excellent players.

Sylvie demonstrated here that she could outplay her competitors; very few brought home this game by correct technique. She received a diamond lead against three no-trump and realized that her best chance to succeed was to take three heart tricks and four clubs.

In abstract the correct play is to hope East has the club queen (since you cannot negotiate four clubs to the queen with West) and you would start by playing the club ace to guard against a singleton club queen offside. But because of the awkward position with entries to dummy, Willard correctly led a club to the 10 successfully, unblocked the heart honors, then crossed to the club ace and advanced the heart jack. All was well when West won the trick. He could not attack diamonds, so had to play back a spade. Willard took the ace, cashed her heart winner, then finessed in clubs and conceded the rest.

You must distinguish what you should do when your RHO passes over one heart and what you should do if he competes further. You can raise to two hearts in competition — that shows very little extra beyond four trumps. However, if you raise freely when East passes, that would be an ace more than a minimum, with real game interest facing a seven-count, say. So you should pass now.


♠ A J 2
 J 10 7 4
 Q 5
♣ A 6 5 3
South West North East
Dbl. Pass 1 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