Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

The shortest way to do many things is to do only one thing at once.

Samuel Smiles

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


When our team qualified for the Senior Bowl in Veldhoven last June, we needed to beat the very strong Lynch team in the finals. Our team went down 50 IMPs early on, then recovered to win by a landslide. This deal occurred in the set where we pulled back almost all of the deficit, and it demonstrates that when in doubt, one should bid one more. You never know what the consequences might be!

At our teammates’ table, Arnie Fisher (East) and Fred Hamilton bid to four hearts after East had made a weak jump overcall of two spades over one club. The defenders made no mistake: They cashed two spades and shifted to a diamond, setting up the defense’s fourth winner before the clubs could be established.

At my table my partner Dan Morse (East) made a simple overcall of one spade over a Precision one-diamond opening, and South made a negative double. I guessed to jump to four spades as a calculated overbid, in the hope that something good would happen — and it did!

No one had anything more to say, and the defenders tried to cash two heart tricks, letting Morse ruff, draw trumps, and establish the diamonds to get his two club losers away.

Yes, a club shift at trick two would have defeated the game, but can you blame South for misreading the position? A club switch might be right if partner discourages at trick one – but I must admit I too would probably have got this wrong.

This is a sequence where you would have been happy to bid one heart over one diamond, but now would be forced to introduce hearts at the two-level. To make this call you need to have the values associated with a reverse (about an ace more than this hand). That being the case, you have to pass now and rely on your partner to reopen with extra values.


♠ Q 5
 Q 8 7 3
 A 5
♣ K Q 10 5 3
South West North East
1♣ Pass 1 1♠

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


jim2June 20th, 2012 at 12:14 pm

On the bidding Q, what would a double mean by South?

Iain ClimieJune 20th, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Hi Mr. Wolff,

I must admit that I’d have had the second top heart on the table at trick 2 against 4S but I’m not sure I should. Partner has 2 or 4 hearts but all depends on the solidity of declarer’s trumps coupled with his diamond holding.

I assume that SAK10xxx or SAQ10xxx plus the DA is too strong for a WJO so partner has to have either the DA or a trump trick, although hopefully not SKQ. Dummy’s S8 is also a looming threat as an entry. If N has two small hearts and the SAJ (say) wth declarer holding the DA then we have 2H plus a ruff and the SA. N may be able to switch to the CK as well but a club through not a Heart will still work even if declarer has a singleton diamond Ace or Ax, especially the first case. If partner has two small hearts and SKJ or SKQ then he needs the DA to beat it but then there is no problem.

There seem to be many hands where, a club is vital as a declarer with DAx can only get one discard. If declarer has solid spades (as the cards lie) but only one heart then a club is essential if he has e.g. DJx(x). A horrible decision to find at the table, though and it shows the benefits of pressure bidding.


Iain Climie

Shantanu RastogiJune 20th, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Its a Precision 2C opening. I wonder why they opened 1 Diamond. With 2 Club Precision opening it wouldnt be too difficult to work out that partner has 4 carder heart though he can hold 6 carder club as well. A club shift should be odds on to as partner is marked with Club honours which should be released as partner either has Spade Ace or Diamond Ace. Partner can read Club 9 as doubleton and would defend appropriately. As Mr Wolff has put in the column -lucky deal.

bobby wolffJune 20th, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Hi Jim2,

Some experienced players play that a double of 1 spade in your example would mean that he held 4 hearts, but not a good enough hand to bid them himself. The partnership would be giving up a penalty double for a more frequent occurence of holding 4 hearts with a minimum hand. If left up to me, I would recommend the conventional double rather than keeping it a penalty oriented one.

bobby wolffJune 20th, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Hi Iain,

I agree with you that a club switch has more to recommend it than a heart continuation, and would have been very successful on the column hand.

Thanks for your analysis which says as much as can be said for the club switch.

bobby wolffJune 20th, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Hi Shantanu,

Thanks to you for your contribution to the whys of why the defender should probably have switched to clubs at trick 2 in the above column hand.

Obviously it is an easier switch when all the hands are in view, but we all agree that our thought processes should arrive at that same conclusion. Little by little we can have great analysis triumph, as long as we continue to be realistic and go to pains not to play results.

All of us appreciate bridge logic.

Iain ClimieJune 20th, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Thanks for the kind comment but it is those who get most of their decisions right in real time that deserve praise. I think my protracted thoughts boil down to “if partner has H8x, giving him an overruff is often no better than a club switch and can be worse; if he’s got 4 hearts a club is essential. I wish I could do this at the table!

Iain Climie

Shantanu RastogiJune 21st, 2012 at 5:54 am

Hi Mr Wolff

Thanks for your reply. My whole analysis was based on Precision 2 Club opening which promises good club suit by North rather than Precision 1 Diamond. Perhaps your opponents were playing 2 C Precison opening with 14-15 HCP rather than 11-15 HCP. Looking at all four hands and hearing Precision 2 C opening against likely 4 Spade doubled by east Club 9 opening lead stands out as partner may have club honours but maynot have 10 of clubs and it is impertive to release club honours. Also on other layouts Club ruff may be achieved by leading clubs. Perhaps your opponents were tired playing finals after long process of trials as they missed the defence even after knowing each other’s style. In standard bidding its difficult to lead club 9 as partner may have Spade Ace and Diamond Ace and may not have much in clubs so one may want to look at the dummy first. So I appreciate your point of high probability of going wrong in defence playing standard.