Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

It's an odd job, making decent people laugh.


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


Your choice!

Kit Woolsey reported that Fred Stewart found an amusing play in the following deal from the first final session of a recent Life Master Open Pairs.

But before we get to Fred, look at that West hand and plan the defense to four hearts.

It is highly unlikely that two rounds of diamonds will stand up. Since declarer’s clubs threaten to take care of his spade losers, it feels like you should take an active role in the defense and go after our tricks quickly.

If you think about it, surely the best way to beat four hearts has to be to put partner on lead to play spades through declarer’s presumed king —isn’t it? So our unnamed hero (or was it goat?) in the West seat led a low diamond. Imaginative and unlucky, you may say, but only if Stewart put up the diamond queen at the first trick — and he did! That was his 10th trick for a great score.

Of course the purists would point out that with hearts and clubs splitting, there were always 10 tricks except on the lead of the spade ace. Declarer could ruff out the clubs and end up in dummy after drawing trump in two rounds. He could have fallen back on the spades splitting if that line wasn’t going to work — but this was more fun, wasn’t it?

What an impossible problem! After your partner's bid of the fourth suit, raising hearts would be acceptable with a doubleton honor, but not really here, while bidding two no-trump without a stopper is inelegant. Some play that a two-spade call here would show this hand — but you would be in trouble if partner believed that it showed five spades and six diamonds! Maybe two no-trump is the least lie.


♠ A Q J 5
 9 4
 A K 5 2
♣ 6 5 2
South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
1♠ Pass 2♣ 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 desJardinsNovember 28th, 2012 at 9:32 am

Ace of spades lead beats 4H, of course.

David desJardinsNovember 28th, 2012 at 9:45 am

Oops, you already said that.

David WarheitNovember 28th, 2012 at 10:50 am

The ├╝ber purists would point out that Mr. Stewart actually made 11 tricks–by following your line of play after winning the diamond queen.

Iain ClimieNovember 28th, 2012 at 10:52 am

Hi Mr. Wolff,

On the BWTA problem, you can see why the 12-14 NT is so popular in the UK even with all the points in 2 suits. Hand shapes get bent regularly (5422, 6322 and even 5332 with a poor 5 card major) for the sheer joy of taking up bidding space and not having to think too hard!


Iain Climie

Shantanu RastogiNovember 28th, 2012 at 11:30 am

Hi Mr Wolff

In bid with the aces isnt 2D bid an option ? 1 D bid promises 3 cards only so with 4 2 D shouldnt be a bad bid over fourth suit with no attractive heart or NT options.


Shantanu Rastogi

Iain ClimieNovember 28th, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Hi Folks,

Good idea Shantanu, especially as I think the sequence is still forcing – typically to at least 2NT. Is there a default agreement on 4SF here?


jimscoldedNovember 28th, 2012 at 1:46 pm

David –

Our Host said only that the QD was the tenth trick and that Mr. Stewart got a great score.

He would not have gotten that great score by cashing out the ten tricks because, as the column points out, simply clubs will set up on one ruff.

I did wonder at 10 versus 11 versus 12 but I already had to change my siggy once this week.

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 28th, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Hi David,

Fred might have made 12 tricks after putting up the queen of diamonds at trick 1. 1 diamond, 7 hearts and 4 clubs create that unusual total.

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 28th, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes WNT do create unusual results by distorting the bidding (as opposed to other tables), trading preemption for more science, sometimes more risk than conservatism, but always exciting.

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 28th, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Hi Shantanu,

First the above two comments and continuations are from the male wolf rather than the female wolf making me a werewolf.

Yes, Shantanu, 2 diamonds is the default choice, keeping the bidding lower, perhaps the least lie, but still endangering creating a wrong picture.

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 28th, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Hi Iain,

4th suit should be game forcing in even Acol, however I am no expert on that system, even though of all systems, it is perhaps my favorite structured one.

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 28th, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Hi Jim,

Yes, 12 tricks are possible as pointed out by now, at least two of us.

Michael BeyroutiNovember 28th, 2012 at 9:00 pm

It’s an odd job, making Bridge people laugh.
_ Kit Woolsey, in collaboration with Fred Stewart.

Bobby WolffNovember 29th, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Hi Michael,

Someone once commented to me later “that when he saw me coming into the room, he began laughing”.

I have often wondered exactly what he meant when he said it? Oh well, I’ll assume he told me that, intending to offer me good cheer.