Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

How happy is he born and taught
That serveth not another’s will;
Whose armor is his honest thought
And simple truth his utmost skill.

Sir Henry Wotton

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


When the opponents pre-empt and you end up in an awkward contract, you’ve got to fight back somehow. Chuck Said (playing with Kathy Ford) found the solution to his problem in this deal from a 1993 pairs game by playing the cards practically double-dummy.

Playing matchpoints, West’s choice to pre-empt at the three-level on a six-card suit may seem wild, but the extra playing strength from the five-card minor makes the choice a reasonable one. Now Said opted for the heart game after his partner doubled three spades for takeout. And yes, a bid of three no-trump by North would probably have been a better alternative.

Declarer found himself in a precarious spot, but he made the most of what he was dealt. When West led the spade king, Said won the ace in dummy. He cashed the heart ace and queen, noting the fall of the nine from West. Said suspected trumps were 4-2, so he turned his attention to clubs, and his suspicion was confirmed when he cashed the club king and West pitched a spade. Said now played a club to the nine, cashed the club ace and ruffed a club with dummy’s heart two.

Next came a spade ruff, stripping East of that suit. Said cashed the heart king and threw East in with a club. The hapless defender had the long trump, so he could cash the trump jack but then was forced to play away from his diamond king into dummy’s A-Q. Said’s fine dummy play resulted in plus 450 and a matchpoint tie for a top.

In a perfect world you would double for takeout and simultaneously bid three no-trump to show a good hand and one prepared to hear partner bid spades. Alas, this is not an option today; you have to commit yourself one way or the other, and bidding three no-trump is far more descriptive of what you actually have.


♠ A 10 9 4
 A Q 2
 A Q 10 4
♣ K 4
South West North East
  3 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