Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

The Horses of Disaster plunge in the heavy clay.

W.B. Yeats

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


When South took advantage of the favorable vulnerability to overcall four spades (for which one could hardly blame him), North took him seriously and jumped to slam. No one had done anything ridiculous, but the final contract was hardly one Lloyds of London would have had any interest in underwriting.

In fact the slam has almost no play – 12 out of 13 of West’s cards defeat the slam, but can you criticize him for leading his singleton heart? I certainly cannot — and anyone who would is a results-merchant of the highest order!

Even after that start, declarer had to play perfectly to envisage a possible way home. He ruffed the first heart high, then led a low trump to the seven to ruff a second heart, and made his next critical play when he ducked a club. East won the first club and returned the suit, allowing declarer to win in dummy and ruff a third heart. Declarer drew the second round of trumps by leading the 10 to the jack to ruff a fourth heart with his last trump, and West was forced to underruff to preserve his diamond guard and master club. That only postponed the evil day: South crossed to dummy with the diamond ace to cash the spade ace and pitch his club, squeezing West in the minors.

This play is called a dummy reversal. Declarer scored seven trump tricks by ruffing four times in the South hand and drawing trump with the three-card suit.

Your partner's double of two diamonds suggests extras with no convenient call. Typically he will be 4-4 in the majors and at least a limit raise in hearts. Since you have a maximum in high cards and decent shape, together with great controls, bid three hearts to suggest those extras.


♠ A J 7
 J 10 8 5
 A 6
♣ A 7 4 3
South West North East
1♣ 1 Dbl. Pass
1 2 Dbl. 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


jim2January 23rd, 2013 at 12:57 pm

In BWTA, what would 3D have meant (instead of a second Double)?

bobbywolffJanuary 23rd, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Hi Jim2,

A good question which will allow the answer to be, although subjective, up to that particular partnership for further discussion.

I prefer the difference between a simple raise, another TO double (as here) and the cue bid of 3 diamonds (in this case) to be gradations of values. A simple raise would be the weakest and not really invitational, although with a maximum for the previous bidding (and South’s hand is very close, holding the ace of diamonds instead of the king, three undervalued aces and a little better than a minimum in high cards plus the ten of hearts which could be important opposite the AQ or K9) I think, with many partners I would now invite by bidding 3 hearts) A double would be a middle gradation and I would (with all partners make the same invitation) causing partner to be the one to further value his hand, leaving a cue bid of 3 diamonds (at least to me) a force to game, probably in hearts, but with some hands possibly leaving the final contract up to some more posturing.

To be fair, I must admit that I do not use an immediate cue bid after partner has opened a major suit and my RHO has overcalled as a limit raise or better (leaving a jump to 3 of our major as a weak preemptive effort). I prefer the cue bid to be an old fashioned GF, with a mere jump also an old fashioned limit raise. By so doing I eliminate the confusion when the partner of the overcaller raises or jump raises his partners suit and my partner then bids on since he now knows my cue bid was forcing to game and thus he is armed with key information about whether or not his RHO is possibly taking an advanced save or instead only bidding on definite values. His pass after my cue bid and below our game would then be forcing and informational, but using the modern effort, only confusion would reign since his pass would not be forcing and sometimes we should be taking the sacrifice (usually depending on vulnerability, but sometimes on just instinct) but always not trying to read both our own hand and our opponents intention, which usually is just too tough to do accurately.

Aren’t you glad you asked?

Patrick CheuJanuary 23rd, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Hi Bobby, so much going on in one hand, the whole hand seems to be a simultaneous guard squeeze against West(the East hand not relevant apart from opening bid)in clubs and diamonds,through declarer ruffing hearts,ducking a round of clubs(rectifying the count,to coin the phase),and West under-ruffing(!)to preserve his clubs and diamond guards,but in vain,when the Ace of spades(squeeze card) was played.My head hurts 🙂 but a good hand.

Patrick CheuJanuary 23rd, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Hi Bobby, playing pairs,holding KQJ542 7 A84 QJ2,bidding went 1S-pass-2D(9+)-pass, I felt with diamonds working and relatively good spades, I bid three spades and pard raise to four with:A7 J964 J1092 A43. Four spades went minus one though some did make 170,maybe on king diamond lead from KQ LHO.Maybe two spades is enough?Best regards-Patrick.

bobbywolffJanuary 23rd, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Hi Patrick,

Right on the first hand, I think, even on the guard squeeze name with East only relevant in the creating of concrete evidence that it was going to work by declarer learning his distribution, some of which was by inference (the deuce of hearts lead after the bidding).

While I would only rebid 2 spades with your hand (3 spades is not wrong, strength and distribution wise, except if partner immediately takes control and bids a low percentage slam, perhaps expecting, at least, a slightly better hand, from you).

However, in most systems, 2 diamonds (or any change of suit) should promise at least another bid and I would then choose 2NT, to which I would then jump to 4 spades with your hand.

Just perhaps, partner could have responded 2 clubs with Axx instead of 2 diamonds possibly resulting in the deceived opening leader choosing the diamond king against you. Not a real psyche, but a slightly deceptive tactic, which may reap huge dividends on this hand, although by so doing you would run an ever so slight risk that 2 clubs may deceive partner more than it will the opening leader.

To answer a possible question before it is asked, yes I, in a vacuum, would rather get a diamond (or a heart) lead than a club (with partner declarer), whether the contract is spades or NT, although on any one hand I could be as wrong as a person may be.

jim2January 23rd, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Interesting hand. Did LHO have more than three hearts?

Patrick CheuJanuary 24th, 2013 at 7:36 am

Hi Bobby, thanks for your helpful insight in the bidding, the consequent influence that it may have on the opening lead.Very best regards-Patrick.

Patrick CheuJanuary 24th, 2013 at 7:42 am

Hi Jim2, the full hand is:West-109 Q832 KQ63 965,North:A7 J964 J1092 A43, East:863 AK105 75 K1087,South:KQJ542 7 A84 QJ2.Yes LHO has more than three hearts.Best regards-Patrick.

jim2January 24th, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Patrick Cheu –

Our Host has not responded yet, but I would want to be in 4S. Best I can tell, the lovely diamond spots meant that all you needed was one of three minor suit honors to be onside. If West had had only two or three hearts, you might even have had some additional small chances.

I think you were just unlucky.

bobby wolffJanuary 24th, 2013 at 4:45 pm

To Patrick and Jim2,

Amen to Jim2’s comment!