Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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


Today's deal is from Robert Ewen and Jeff Rubens' new book, "It's all in the game." As I mentioned last week, this book melds humorous and instructive deals. Today's is a real-life affair, in which a name from the past found a neat play to recover from his unfortunate opening lead.

A trump lead would defeat four spades by force. But when the club 10 was led, North’s queen was played, and East had to duck. South cashed the heart ace and led a diamond to the queen and king. Now when South regained the lead and cashed the diamond ace, the fall of the J-10 allowed him to bang down the two top trumps: making four.

At another table, however, Peter Leventritt recovered from his opening lead by smoothly ducking the diamond queen. Then, when South cashed the diamond ace and East followed with the jack, South pictured his original holding as K-J-10. When declarer tried to ruff a low diamond in dummy, East overruffed and gave West a club ruff. West led another diamond, giving East another overruff of dummy. Finally, a further club from East promoted a trump winner for the fourth and setting defensive trick.

At IMPs, declarer could have ensured the contract (except against a 5-1 trump split) by abandoning diamonds temporarily when the jack dropped, and cashing two high spades. This play, however, could lose the contract if diamonds were 3-3 and spades 5-1. I’ve seen many deceptive ducks, but never one done in quite this way for quite this reason.

You can pass, playing partner for long hearts in a weak hand, which he has suggested he holds. Equally, you can bid two no-trump, two spades or even three diamonds, to improve the partscore. If one of your small clubs were a heart, it would be clear to pass. Even though passing seems to me to be the most trusting action, three diamonds may be your best chance to improve the contract.


♠ A K 6 5 4
 A Q 8 7 6
♣ A 9 4
South West North East
1♠ Dbl. Pass 2♣
2 Pass 2 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


jim2July 31st, 2012 at 12:12 pm

On the bidding quiz, what would 2H by partner have shown on the first round? I think I need to know that before I can judge what to bid now.

That is, has partner essentially already denied a 6 or 7 card heart suit?

bobby wolffJuly 31st, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Hi Jim2,

Your question is a good one and one which shows a willingness and flexibility by you to want to know differences in good player’s judgment as to when to differentiate between limiting one’s hand first (1nt initial response) and then volunteering a suit as opposed to immediately disclosing it (2 hearts).

First of all, 2 hearts shows a better hand than does 1NT, being unlimited and forcing, while 1NT (though played forcing for one round by many) is still weaker. The following are typical examples of both:

1. 2 hearts- xx, KQJ9xxx, xx, Kx or xx AQJ9xxx, xxx, K. or even J, AQJ0xx, xxx, QJx

2. 1NT and then hearts- xx, KQJ9xxx, xx, xx or xx, AQJ9xxx, xxx, Q. or even, x, AQJ9xx, xxx, xxx.

As you can see from the examples, it is difficult to distinguish between the heart suits, but the 2 heart bid, then usually a heart rebid is a better hand than is first 1NT and then hearts.

jim2July 31st, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I remain confused as to how to interpret partner’s sequence of Pass the T/O Double then bidding hearts after I have made a pattern-showing bid suggesting heart shortness.

Partner did not bid 2H directly, did not bid 1N, and also did not bid 3H.

Many partnerships seem to play 2H as a weak jump after a doubled opening of 1 C/D, so my next question would be what 3H would have shown after “my” 1S was doubled.

Iain ClimieJuly 31st, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Hi Gents,

Also here what would redouble then bidding hearts mean? Surely a good hand with hearts which means that immediate heart bid may be weaker and pass then 2H weaker still. Should 1NT be reserved more for a genuine balanced hand instead of a catch-all 6-9 points of miscellaneous shapes? Any thoughts here?


Iain Climie

bobby wolffJuly 31st, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Hi Jim2,

A typical bid by North in today’s BWTA hand after first passing and then volunteering 2 hearts on the 2nd round might be: x, J1098xxx, xx, xxx emphasizing having as little strength as is possible, but the value of which is only in playing the hand with hearts as trump and therefore producing a few trump tricks on its own.

A jump in hearts in both of your examples shows decent hearts, e.g. KQ109xxx and little if anything else. The vulnerability is also important whereupon when vulnerable perhaps either the jack of hearts may be necessary or possibly an 8th one instead.

bobby wolffJuly 31st, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Hi Iain,

About right on all counts. Redouble essentially says to partner, “This is our hand (despite RHO’s double) and I first want to communicate that to us so that we will view future bidding the same way. Once in a while, depending on the specific auction, that caveat changes, but only when the opponents show the likelihood of powerful distribution.

Tread carefully but carry a big stick, but unlike President Teddy Roosevelt’s similar quote, the bridge quote is not implying lack of respect but rather being outgunned on the rocky ground of distribution.

Yes, a 1NT response over an opponent’s TO double should show a little more than the minimum required by 1NT without the interference, but with the same balanced hand.

jim2July 31st, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Thank you.

Your candidate hand is close to what I had guessed. If I knew pard had 7, I would pass. With just 6 bad hearts, it seems a closer call holding the void. Yes, the weak hand takes tricks only in hearts (assuming defense prevents a ruff), but the strong hand loses the potential for tricks with the 5th and maybe even 4th cards of its own trump holding.