Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, October 12th, 2012

Practice is the best of all instructors.

Publilius Syrus

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

*Three controls (two for an ace, one for a king)


At the world championships in Veldhoven last year, everyone was impressed by the performance of the Indonesian women. In this deal from their semifinal against England, Grace Tueje made a nice play, one that decided the match in her side's favor.

When South upgraded her hand to a two-club opener, North was now happy to let her partner try for the slam bonus.

Against six no-trump West led the spade four, covered by the seven, nine and ace. Declarer went after clubs first, and things did not look good for her side when East discarded the spade five on the third round. A fourth round of clubs saw declarer pitch a diamond from dummy (having let go a heart on the third club), and East discarded the spade six.

Now West switched to the diamond six, and declarer put up dummy’s ace and played a heart to the jack. When that held, she cashed the last club, West discarding the heart six, dummy the spade three, and East the diamond five. She next cashed the heart ace, and when the king fell, she had to decide who held the diamond queen. If it was West, a simple finesse would suffice, but since East appeared to have started with four cards in that suit, she played her for that card by leading a diamond to the king. Now the heart queen squeezed East between spades and diamonds for the contract.

In the context of limit raises, you couldn't have a better hand. While there is a slim chance that you have three fast spade losers, I think your third-round club control allows you to bid five diamonds now, suggesting an additional diamond control and no spade control. The five-level really should be safe.


♠ 10 7 3
 Q 7 5 3
 A K J 4
♣ 9 7
South West North East
1 Pass
3 Pass 4♣ Pass
4 Pass 4 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 ClimieOctober 27th, 2012 at 9:41 am

Hi Mr. Wolff,

Sorry I’m late on this one but I think the BWTA is a bit optimistic, especially opposite the wrong partner and assuming the limit raise is 10-11 (or bad 12) in principle. As a recent horror story, consider the following.

I doubled 1C holding SAxx HAKx DAQJ10x Cxx, LHO passed and partner bid 2H. I bid 3C (just agreed as forcing ans asking for more info) and got 4H. Pass is tempting now, but i recalled a Jeff Rubens suggestion – if in doubt, make a game / slam try if a perfect minimum holidng will make it a lay down. In this case Sxx HQJ10xx DKxx CKxx would be one possibility but, more to the point, the D finesse looks to be working if required – want to be in 6H is parner has (say) HQxxxxx and CAx . If partner hasn’t got a club control then 5H is still surely safe.

Sadly partner held SQxx HQJxxx DKxx Cxx and the hearts were 5-0! 2-off after the 2 top clubs and a spade switch (he went up with the Ace and of course LHO’s SK was then set up). Abuse followed the appearance of dummy (with the grudging concession that we’d probably be OK) but tantrums arrived after the result. Who needs this rubbish (hence the decision the other week)? Perhaps I’ve got tolerant in my old age as I spent 13 months playing with a partner who is on tablets for a heart condition – when they kick in during the last hour of a session, it is a question of when chaos arrive.

Back to the subject, I think the risk of 3 small spades here is very high as partner has just bid 4H. It may depend on the partner, however….


Iain Climie

JaneOctober 27th, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Hi there,

Another late entry as I have been busy with Judy’s blog and watching the fireworks there. Let’s gang up on Bobby. After all, he is only a world class player with so many tournaments wins I have lost count. I agree with you however, a bad ten points has already said enough, but of course, I am the bad partner you are referring to since I love to bid slams, whether they are there or not.

Always fun to blog.

Iain ClimieOctober 27th, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Hi Jane,

Actually I don’t think you are a bad partner here – anybody can take an unfortunate view or even just have a really bad night – my partner on the heart tablets was occasionally prone to revoking when they kicked in, so I always checked when he showed out; he was a delightful person though. The gripe is when you or I or anyone takes a view which fails, possibly unluckily or possibly misguided optimisim, and partner’s reaction is based 100% on results and not on reasoning or bad breaks. There are always times when a good (or seemingly safe) contract falls on its nose or a disgracefully bad one proves to be cold.



bobby wolffOctober 27th, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Hi Iain & Jane,

I consider it a pleasure, rather than a duty to be ganged up on by the two of you.

Adequate, not to mention scientific slam bidding, is almost always a serious challenge, but not to be shied away from.

Iain, what you say or at least imply, is very correct in that one has to know the tendencies of one’s partner before his judgment in slam bidding will begin to realize consistently good final choices.

Delicate, sophisticated and then good percentage choices are the goal, but if anyone thinks he will be right all the time or even over 75%, he is kidding himself. There is just not enough bidding space, nor bidding language available to cover all the bases. Often it comes down to partner needing to have one of three holdings, e.g not two losing something or others, nor three little in some side suit in which I have AKxxx or of having some secondary honor, sometimes even the 10 opposite AKJx in order to basically allow scoring 12 tricks.

The best way to improve is to get the hand records before the event, but in the absence of that, we all need to be prepared to be wrong, even if we wisely choose not to dwell on it later.

Jane, thank you for your kind words and between you and me, we both enjoy being optimistic and no doubt, intend to die with our bidding boots on.