Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 13th, 2012

One can relish the varied idiocy of human action during a panic to the full, for, while it is a time of great tragedy, nothing is being lost but money.

J.K. Galbraith

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


**Majors or minors


We have all seen hands where you are declarer in three no-trump, and you need to hold up your ace for at least one round to cut the defenders' communications.

Then there are some more-advanced hands where you have K-J-x and the lead is a small card to the queen. You may have to duck to sever opponents’ communications (when the suit breaks 5-2 and you need to lose the lead to your right-hand opponent). Today’s deal takes that principle a step further.

Against three no-trump doubled, West led the heart four to the jack and queen. When declarer discovered the bad diamond break, he played a club, but East rose with the ace and played a second heart for one down.

Declarer felt that he had been unlucky not only with the diamond break, but also that West had not led spades, and even that East had a second heart to play. However, a careful look at the spot-card led at trick one would have told him East had two hearts. If the heart jack was singleton, then West’s initial holding would have been A-K-9-7-4-3, from which he would have led the seven.

So hearts are 5-2, East must have the club ace, and diamonds strongly rate to be breaking badly, given the final double. Declarer should have ducked the heart at trick one. Now nothing can beat him if he leads a club to the jack after finding the bad diamond break.

In a competitive auction like this, your partner would normally raise to two hearts with four trumps — if he had them. But as he has guaranteed three-plus hearts by his double, you should nonetheless compete to two hearts yourself. You know you can, if necessary, ruff diamonds in dummy, so you should be protected from a force.


♠ 9 8
 Q 10 8 6
 9 4 2
♣ K J 5 2
South West North East
1 Dbl. Pass
1 2 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


Iain ClimieJuly 27th, 2012 at 10:14 am

Hi Mr. Wolff,

A quick thought on the BWTA problem. Although it looks a bit odd, is there any case for bidding 2C first? It stops west bidding 1S and you can bid 2H over 2D. Partner won’t give preference to clubs if he has 4H while it is unlikely he is 3-3 in clubs and hearts. It seems to give some extra options and works well if partner is 4-3-1-5 or 4-3-2-4.


Iain Climie

bobby wolffJuly 27th, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Good morning Iain,

You, of course, present a good case for bidding your unbid 4 card minor ahead of the more normal (by previous standards) 4 card major response. As you describe, by predicting a logical bidding continuation, you will enable 2 possible strains rather than just 1,

The flies in the ointment are that partner, (1) holding only 3 cards in both rounded suits, will revert the bidding back to 3 clubs instead of the l level lower 2 hearts and with the same shaky 7 card fit, thinking your bidding has announced more clubs than hearts and (2) if partner has better heart support and a pretty good hand, then by choosing clubs first, the bidding may possibly die at a lower level and with the wrong trump suit when even a heart game may have a decent play, especially when the opponents can further compete in their best suit (e.g. on this example East raising his partner’s 2 diamond bid to 3) making it more difficult for you to introduce hearts at all.

I, nor should anyone else, say fie on your judgment, but the proof on any one hand is only the result, signifying not much. As I recall, one of my great playing mentors of many years ago Johnny Gerber, would sometimes say, “contract bridge is still a very young game and much is still left to be discovered”. Since, the quality of bridge bidding has progressed by bounds and leaps, proving Johnny to be right on target.

Thanks for your contributions and with your comment, allowing others to ponder your judgment.