Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

I left both ship and seas, and on
Along the sacred valleys all alone
Went in discovery.

Homer’s “Odyssey,” Edward Chapman, trans.

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


At last year's Bermuda Bowl in the match between Israel and Poland, the Poles showed their ability in defense.

After a simple auction, South had to declare three spades and West led his singleton diamond. Ophir Herbst won this in hand and went on to play spade ace and another spade. East won and thoughtfully shifted to the heart jack, ducked by West to leave the defenders’ communications intact. Declarer could do no better than exit from dummy with a club. East won the ace (West giving reverse count by following with the seven) and gave his partner the diamond ruff.

West now did not know which of the club or heart winners were standing up. He solved his problem by underleading his hearts, his low card suggesting a remaining three-card holding. East won the heart 10 and knew to return another heart; thus declarer had to lose two hearts, a club and the diamond ruff for down one. Poland: plus 50.

Jacek Kalita was also in three spades against the lead of the diamond nine. He too won in hand, but immediately ran the spade jack. Of course, East won his king and could now give partner a diamond ruff, but the defense had only their two aces now. Had East returned a heart immediately, South would have won and played a club, and thus have been able to ruff the third heart with the spade ace. The fall of the spade 10 would have allowed declarer to come home.

Start by redoubling to show that you believe your side has the balance of power. At your next turn you can raise spades. This route will suggest a doubleton trump and approximately a minimum for the auction thus far. Some people play the redouble as conventional here, but I believe it is far more valuable to show a decent hand than to show a top trump honor, for example.


♠ K 10
 J 10 5 3
 K 8
♣ A 10 9 8 5
South West North East
1 1♠ Dbl.

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 24th, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Hi Bobby, your mention of rev count here,prompted my thought on the hand Oct.22,where West led Ace spades from AQJ3, n East plays the 8 from K87654 as a request for a higher ranking suit, if one plays rev count n is known to possibly hav 6s on the bidding, does one still plays 8s for higher rank n 4s for lower suit in the same manner, n 76 as continuation of suit? Best Regards-Patrick.

bobby wolffOctober 25th, 2012 at 4:18 am

Hi Patrick,

There are three different types of legal signals, which subjectively are used by a partnership to sometimes signal:

1. attitude
2. count
3. suit preference

Experienced good players usually know what on any one hand is best to convey the most important information to partner.

On the hand in question, since it was improbable, actually impossible, for a continuation of that suit to be the correct play (ruling out attitude) the player with the 6 spades to the king signaled high (8) suggesting to partner to switch to the higher of the other 2 suits other than the suit led and trumps.

Obviously signalling partner correctly and in the code language of cards requires concentration, remembering the bidding by both the declarer’s side and the defense and doing this all in an even tempo so that a fast or slow play will not convey illegal unauthorized information (UI), not allowed to be transmitted.

Reverse count is a method played by some players to do just the opposite of what is normally done so that a high card asks for the lower suit, but that is a partnership understanding which must be disclosed to the opponents.

Dual meaning signals such as odd-even where an odd card is encouraging and an even card is discouraging, but also suit preference e.g. a ten suggests to partner to switch to the higher of the other two suits while a deuce suggests the lower is not allowed as a discarding method, because the tempo of the discarder will always give his partner UI unless the players are totally committed to being actively ethical, which will happen as often as having a personal handshake with the Easter bunny.

Aren’t you glad you asked?

Patrick CheuOctober 25th, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Hi Bobby, Your answer brought a smile to a once passionate bridge player, long may it continue, if you dont mind my asking. Best Wishes-Patrick 🙂

Jeff HOctober 25th, 2012 at 5:33 pm


While I recognize the UI issues with odd-even, it is a legal discarding method.

bobby wolffOctober 25th, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Hi Jeff H,

Only on the first discard, but not as an entire signalling method.

The thought behind that is, although it is still possible to be unethical with one’s choice of even discards, being out of the suit led will give a 50% intended ethical player a chance to conform to his proper tempo responsibilities.

Granted, that especially devious players may be able to find a way around that restriction, (he figures to have more cards to choose from), but by so doing, may expose themselves to a reputation that they do not desire.