Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, December 28th, 2012

Which of us … is to do the hard and dirty work for the rest — and for what pay? Who is to do the pleasant and clean work, and for what pay?

John Ruskin

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


In today's deal the bidding wound its way to six diamonds by South, when South elected not to make a simple rebid of three no-trump over two no-trump. Instead, he repeated his diamonds and North cooperated once, then went all the way to slam when South indicated suitability for higher things by going to the four-level.

Against the slam West found the best lead: the spade six. Declarer won with dummy’s ace, and it was clear to him that if the diamond queen fell in two rounds, he could discard a loser on the third round of clubs, ultimately losing just one heart trick.

Care had to be taken though, to preserve entries to the North hand, should diamonds misbehave. Accordingly, declarer played a diamond to the ace, then the seven to the king, carefully conserving the trump two. When the queen did not drop, it now became necessary for the club suit to provide four tricks, for both a spade and a heart discard.

Since the lead was in dummy, where it needed to be, a small club was led and the 10 was successfully finessed. The club queen was cashed and dummy re-entered with the heart ace. The club ace came next, on which the spade loser was discarded, and although East ruffed the third club with the master trump, declarer could re-enter dummy with the thoughtfully-preserved diamond two to North’s four, so that the heart loser could be pitched on the remaining high club.

At any vulnerability this is a reasonable example of a maximum weak two-bid. When you have a 10-count, you will typically not upgrade to a one-level opening unless you have a 6-4 hand pattern. With an 11-count, look at your controls and whether your honors are guarded. If you have an ace and king, and no singleton honors, open at the one-level.


♠ 5 4
 K 9 6
 A J 10 9 7 2
♣ Q 10
South West North East

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


Ted BartunekJanuary 11th, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Hi Mr. Wolff,

The BWTA hand reminded me of another hand.

Pairs, Vul against Not, in first seat.

S – x
H – J109xxx
D – A10x
C – A10x

My RHO, who’d been in the Barry Crane 500 a number of times, spent almost two minutes trying to decide what to do.

I’d appreciate your thinking on this (and ideas from anyone else as well.)

Thanks once again.

bobbywolffJanuary 12th, 2013 at 1:11 am

Hi Ted,

First, it is always good to hear from you.

My personal choice would be to open 1 heart with 2 hearts perhaps 80% and pass 40% at best. My reasons are probably not what every good player would agree, but once deciding to pass, by the time it gets back to me, it is likely to be awkward to bid anything which, in turn chances an adverse double game swing or, at the very least, a part score swing against your side. True, the opening bid is minimum and far from lead directing, but in spite of that, I opt for the value of bidding at the one (or perhaps two level) rather than choosing the far too wimpy pass.

Also, it should not go unnoticed that I think a long study before choosing an opening bid or not (almost two minutes is off the charts long, especially while deciding to open the bidding or not) is bordering on extremely poor table ethics since that study would obviously later (and probably very soon) turn into unauthorized information (UI) to partner, which in turn, is very unhealthy to introduce. My bid would be in just a few seconds (perhaps 5) wherein the pace can proceed with no UI present.

A problem hand should never cause the potential opening bidder to turn the game into a farce which always happens when unnecessary UI rules the day (and the bidding).

My intent is not to criticize, but merely to point out how unfair that kind of hesitation causes on this hand to the whole table and in many cases makes the judgments to be made later forever skewed.

I apologize if I have offended anyone, but deciding what to open the bidding with (or pass) is about 5% as important as the ridiculous study before deciding, would produce.