Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose — a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.

Mary Shelley

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


Today's deal was played in the quarterfinals of the world championships in Beijing four years ago. At most tables East showed both minors, West selected diamonds, and North doubled for takeout. Can you guess what should happen next? Let's see what happened in the match between the Netherlands and Germany.

In the first room the German South, Joseph Piekarek, sat for the double of three diamonds. The heart lead got the defenders off on the right track (not everybody found it). Declarer now had no chance to avoid losing one trick in each major, two clubs and two trumps, down 500.

The Dutch South, Huub Bertens, escaped from three diamonds doubled to three spades, and I’m sure if the German East-West had known their teammates had collected 500, they would have happily conceded 140. But East chose to double Bertens in the pass-out seat to show extras for his two-suited action, a good idea in theory. West passed it out, and his opening club lead went to the queen and king. But that persuaded East to continue the suit rather than shift to diamonds. Declarer won the club ace, then led a heart to the queen and another heart to the 10 and ace. Now he ruffed a club, led a spade to the six, cashed the heart king, and led a fourth heart, pitching a second diamond.

West could ruff in, but Bertens could trump the next diamond in dummy, draw one more round of spades, then run hearts and give West his trump trick for plus-730.

You have more than enough in the way of shape and values to bid two spades now. Remember, at your second bid you showed a bad hand and strongly suggested no major. In context you have real extras in high cards, and real additional values in terms of shape.


♠ Q 8 7 2
 Q 4
 J 10 9 5 2
♣ 5 3
South West North East
1♣ Dbl. Pass
1 1 2 2

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


Bob KiblerSeptember 20th, 2012 at 10:39 am

There’s been a serious typo in the bidding: the correct sequence is:

South West North East
P 1H 2NT
P 3D Dbl P
3S P P Dbl

jim2September 20th, 2012 at 12:02 pm

I found the typo in the on-line bidding quite amusing, and was expecting a wild result. The opening sentences even fanned the flames a bit, “Can you guess …?”

In that typo-afflicted bidding, I initially wondered if East had bid 3S to ask pard to bid 3N with a stopper and values, and things had then gone awry. Strange things, ‘dem experts get up to these days, I thought!

Iain ClimieSeptember 20th, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Hi Mr. Wolff and Gents,

On the hand itself, is South’s escape to 3S at one table sensible (even though it worked out) given limited values and 2 natural trump tricks? Any club values partner may have are under the 2NT bidder while spades are likely to break badly – try swapping the S10 and S4 and how happy would South be? If partner is so weak that 3D dbl’d is making (e.g. 5-6-0-2 and few high cards) he might have preferred to open 1S while there are other hands where 3S could cost a fortune.

I’ll only worry about tpyos when I manage not to make them.


Iain Climie

Jeff HSeptember 20th, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Ths article seemed to be typo rich. In BWTA, there is the remark “Remember, at your second bid …”, but you have only bid once so far.

But I make enough typos myself. I have found I am better at proof reading other people’s work than my own.

bobby wolffSeptember 20th, 2012 at 2:33 pm

HI Bob, Jim2 and Iain,

Needless to say the presentation is embarrassing beyond words. All I can say is that this hand did not leave our control in this condition, but beyond that I do not know what caused it.

In any event this was a real hand and Bob must have gotten the actual bidding from the hand presented in his newspaper.

Our reason for presenting this particular hand is to remind all of us how either great results or unmitigated disasters often occur from wild type distributions which have favorable lies for some and, of course, the opposite for their opponents. Sometimes when the favored side shows happiness with the almost played contract, the other side intuitively recognizes it and flies to a lesser minus which, in turn, produces much less disasterous results.

To Iain, I certainly agree with your basic premise and your summary, but opening 1 spade instead of 1 heart (and my heart-of- hearts choice of system would b 4 card majors) with 4-6 is just too much of a distortion.

Again, please accept my apology for such an ugly presentation.

Iain ClimieSeptember 20th, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Hi Jeff,

I think the BWTA is really saying “when you are considering your second bid, remember that you(r first bid) showed…”. I certainly agree with the conclusion!


Iain Climie

bobby wolffSeptember 20th, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Hi Jeff,

You are being very kind when you only speak of typos.

Yes, you are right with a very good reason for not proofreading one’s own work, since the same mind is going over the same subject with an obvious weakness for accepting that particular aberration.

All I can do now is try and learn what happened and try to keep it from invading us in the future.