Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Love your neighbor, yet pull not down your hedge.

George Herbert

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



While most declarers were in four hearts in today's Yeh Brothers deal, Liu Jun was in three no-trump.

It might have been easier to pass out three diamonds doubled: A trump lead will apparently net a minimum of 300. But on the informative auction shown, West led a diamond to the nine and king. A club finesse held, the next one lost as West threw a spade, and back came a low diamond. Declarer won in hand, cashed his spade and heart winners, and presented East with a diamond. That player could cash three diamonds, but then had to concede the last three clubs to dummy.

East should have returned the diamond jack at trick four, in which case West would have had the option to win the diamond six on the third round. But declarer has a resource.

He advances the heart queen, hoping for a bare jack or nine with East, then cashes one club, pitching a heart, comes to hand with the second top spade, and exits with a diamond. If East wins, he must surrender the game-going tricks in clubs. If West wins, he has a spade to cash, but can’t manage more than one heart trick.

Incidentally, if West pitches a heart on the second club, declarer wins the diamond return and returns a third diamond. If East cashes out, West is squeezed in the majors; if East switches after taking a diamond or two, declarer sets up hearts as before.

I recommend that you use the call of two hearts here as natural and nonforcing — less than an invitation. The logic is that with invitational values or better, you can bid the new minor (here, two clubs) as a forcing relay asking for three-card spade support or four hearts. If you do that, a jump to three hearts should show 5-5 with invitational values.


♠ Q 7 6 4 3
 K J 7 2
 7 6 3
♣ 7
South West North East
1 Pass
1♠ Pass 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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


jim2May 12th, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I sure would not want to play 3D doubled as West.

A trump lead seems obvious and declarer may take only 4 tricks for minus 800.

bobbywolffMay 12th, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, when the column refers to 3 diamonds doubled as at least -300 it was making a significant underbid. Good defense should, as you say, defeat the hand at least 2 tricks more, although there are many variations.

It should be said however, that modern bidding has changed, with doubles being for card showing and mostly for takeout, resulting in some overbidding by aggressive opponents (opening 2NT for minors), especially when cards are located wrong for declarer and the fit is somewhere between poor and mediocre, but not always suffering dire consequences.

Even with all the bidding advances in the modern age, there is not enough language available to sometimes defend with confidence.

Thanks for pointing this out, along with the options and judgment usually present in competitive auctions.