Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Nothing has scathed me,
Nothing ever, nor ever will.
I have touched pitch, I have reveled in it and rolled in it….

Orrick Johns

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


Per-Olav Sundelin, known universally as P.O., was not playing for his native Sweden in the 2008 European Championships. His other duties as Vugraph commentator, Daily Bulletin journalist and proofreader precluded this. P.O.'s command of English is such that he is able to correct not only the analysis but also the grammar of the native English-speaking scribes. Additionally, he wrote a series of bridge problems for the bulletins. Here is one of them, perhaps the hardest of the fortnight.

West leads the spade king against five diamonds, East contributes the jack, and you play the ace. On a diamond to the ace, East shows out, discarding a club. What continuation guarantees your contract?

Answer: play a top club, and regardless of what card East contributes, even the ace, discard your losing spade! Should the club hold, give up a heart then cash the ace and king of that suit. If West trumps in at any point, ruff the spade return, cash the diamond king, and ruff the fourth heart in dummy. If West has the club ace and takes it, win the major-suit return, give up a diamond, then draw the last trump and discard the two losing hearts in hand on the queen and jack of clubs.

And if East plays the club ace, discard a spade, win the return, and give up a trump. The trap is that should you mistakenly ruff the club ace, West can overruff, then play a low spade to East for another club ruff.

I don't advocate rebidding one no-trump with three hearts and a side-suit small doubleton. Equally, raising with three small trumps is not ideal. Here you can also rebid clubs — which might get you to no-trump the right way up, plus your clubs are almost as good as a six-card suit. In favor of the raise is that if you always support with three trumps and a doubleton, partner will have strong negative inferences when you don't raise. I call it a tie!


♠ 7 6
 7 6 2
 A K 2
♣ K Q J 8 3
South West North East
1♣ Pass 1 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


Patrick CheuOctober 20th, 2012 at 9:29 am

Hi Bobby,this hd has been troubling me,Axxx AJxxx Jx xx.Par opens 1D-1H,2C-2D?If spades were A10xx I would bid 2N.Par’s hd 3 1 5 4 (15) passes.Shd par bids 2N over 2D?Does that show the hd shape n 15-17?Shd I hav bid 2N over 2C?Par’s spades were KQx.Best Regards-Patrick.

bobby wolffOctober 20th, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Hi Patrick,

I would chance (bid) 2NT with your example hand even sans the 10 of spades. While your examples and implications are that we are all (somewhat desperately) searching for the magic 26 HCP’s in order to venture game in NT, I do not see any good reason to back off even with a point or two shy of that amount.

Goren’s (or probably Milton Work’s) point count is flawed, though often used as a barometer in determining bidding judgment, but taking tricks (9 of them) are the goal and since defense is difficult, the opening lead is blind and the defenders being human sometimes err, all factors militate toward aggression.

It is like taking (by a male) a new unknown girl to the neighborhood dance. Sometimes it turns out to be heaven, sometimes not, but one never knows till he ventures forth. To somewhat repeat, a hand surprisingly fits well, an errant opening lead for the defense, an unusually well played hand by the declarer, or just an overall lucky distribution of the cards may separately or together reward you with that goodnight kiss you so crave.

Some queens work out much better than others, and in order to take advantage, you need to have reached the iffy game to profit.

Thanks for your question, the answer to which is certainly worthy of discussion.

Patrick CheuOctober 20th, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Hi Bobby, thank you so much for your amusing prompt reply.You have put everything in perspective and I can sleep again at night.I really enjoy reading your articles.Best Wishes-Patrick.