Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 24th, 2012

If we who are in life cannot speak
Of profound experiences,
Why do you marvel that the dead
Do not tell you of death?

Edgar Lee Masters

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


Years ago, there was an annual BOLS bridge-tip competition, which contained a wealth of material for bridge journalists. Zia Mahmood won 20 years ago with a tip to the effect that defenders generally cover honors if they can.

This tip was used to good effect in the following hand played by Jeremy Dhondy.

In the other room the inelegant contract of four hearts had come home when East led a spade. Against four spades, though, West led a club. Declarer won this in hand and ruffed a club. Now he had the problem of which red-suit finesse to take. With Zia’s tip in mind, he led dummy’s diamond queen.

As the original reporter of this deal commented, in retrospect it was foolish of East to cover this card. Why would declarer play on this suit in this manner if he did not have the ace and jack? And if that were the case, then covering the diamond queen could only make life easier for him.

Had East resisted the urge to cover, declarer would have played for the red-suit kings to be the other way around. He would surely have risen with his diamond ace, ruffed his last club, and run the heart queen. West would have won his king and the defenders would have had two trump tricks and the diamond king to come. At the table, when the diamond queen was covered, declarer unblocked diamonds, ruffed a club, pitched a heart on the diamonds, and gave up two trumps.

It would be nice to play a two-suited defense to one no-trump, allowing you to get both suits off your chest at one go. DONT, Cappelletti and Woolsey work well to achieve this target. But if you do not have any of these methods available, you should bid two hearts rather than pass. You may not have a great hand, but you do have good shape. In balancing seat that is almost enough on its own.


♠ Q 2
 Q J 10 7 3
 Q 10 8 7 5
♣ 10
South West North East
1 NT Pass 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


Jeff HJune 7th, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Regarding BWTA, I have read what another author calls the “Rule of 2” which recommends reopening over 1NT if you have at least 2 distributional points. This hand has 3 (doubleton=1 + singleton=2). The theory is that opener and responder will have about 20 HCP between them (computer studies actually say about 20.5), so you and partner also have about 20 HCP. Opener and responder are somewhat balanced (with an unbalanced hand, responder is likely to have transfered to his long suit). Thus your distribution is likely to give you an edge. That you are somewhat weak in HCP is actually an advantage, as your partner’s tenaces are sitting over opener,

bobby wolffJune 7th, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Hi Jeff H,

Yes, I recommend reopening with the BWTA also. However, the decision to reopen should not be based on some kind of scientific formula, but rather on mature judgment gleaned by experience. Like music and art success at bridge (particularly high-level bridge) is more intuitive than scientific which is involved with knowing or at least suspecting, the habits and tendencies of one’s opponents together with the likes and dislikes of one’s partner.

Above all, the challenge of playing against worthy opponents never can be overestimated and so my recommendation
for all wannabe improving players is to get a heavy dose of playing “up”, losing, sure, but not for as long as not exposing one’s ego.