Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Inspiration descends only in flashes, to clothe circumstances; it is not stored up in a barrel, like salt herrings, to be doled out.

Patrick White

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


In 2007 the trials were held to determine the second USA Open Teams spot, and the squads captained by Seymon Deutsch and Rose Meltzer met in the quarter-finals. On the deal that followed, Bart Bramley and Sidney Lazard for the Deutsch team came off better.

Bramley and Lazard are one of the few pairs who have stuck with a version of Standard American more common in the 60s and 70s; but they have no shortage of inspiration in both the bidding and the play. Against three no-trump, Bramley led the spade two (standard fourth-highest leads) and Lazard played the spade king, which held. West’s lead, coupled with the bidding, suggested that South held four cards in each major, and dummy’s diamond suit looked likely to provide six tricks.

Any guesses as to which card Lazard played back at trick two? Yes, it was a club — but which? He chose the king, and when that held, followed up with the club eight. To declarer, it appeared that for his club-king switch, East must also hold the ace. So she rose with her queen, and now the game ended two light, courtesy of four club tricks plus the two top spades.

Lazard’s play could hardly cost. With any needed finesse in the red suits working for declarer, a shift to clubs might cost overtricks, but it was virtually impossible for it to cost the contract.

It is a matter of partnership agreement (or dispute) whether an advance by fourth hand into a major shows a minimum of four cards or five. Certainly one should not bid a bad four-card major here; my belief is that a five-card holding is the norm. Either way, the most practical option is to bid one no-trump and wait for partner to introduce a major if he has one.


♠ Q 10 6 4
 K Q 8 5
 Q 2
♣ Q 10 4
South West North East
1♣ 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


David Memphis MOJO SmithNovember 15th, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Mr. Wolff: Do you agree with the bidding?

It looks like North should bid 3 hearts on the third round. This says I want to go to game, and, by the way, I have three-card support. South could easily have five hearts and not enough points to bid fourth-suit forcing.

Bobby WolffNovember 15th, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Hi David (or would you rather be called Memphis Mojo?),

I agree with you, but will even go a step further and suggest that North should have raised 1 heart to 2 instead of rebidding his 6 card diamond suit. It is possible in NS’s partnership that bidding 2NT would somehow deny 5 hearts, but because of the cramped bidding necessary, any bidding caveat denying 5 hearts by choosing 2NT simply wouldn’t seem to logically fly.

Since this is a real tournament hand we usually do not dig deep into bidding choices, especially when the plays the thing.

Thanks for taking the time to write.

Patrick CheuNovember 15th, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Hi Bobby, the 10c in south’s hand gives declarer a chance to get things right,allowing for deception from east, suffice to say that east must be close to bidding with ace king of clubs n king of spades.So declarer with Q10x clubs still has 50/50 to get it right, unless in the recess of our mind we remember reading Akxx switching to x!Best regards -Patrick.

Bobby WolffNovember 16th, 2012 at 4:21 am

Hi Patrick,

Gee whiz, with all this deception going on, next thing someone is going to mention is that there is no Santa Claus, Easter bunny or the tooth fairy.

Patrick CheuNovember 16th, 2012 at 7:21 am

Hi Bobby, given that east could switch from AK98, KJxx,or other holdings, is it not just a guess whether to play Q or 10c, how would you have play if you were declarer?As Frank Stewart said in one of his books, success in bridge may sometimes be on a finesse.