Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

In married life three is company and two none.

Oscar Wilde

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


In today's deal North first showed a limit raise, then indirectly defined his hand by suggesting three no-trump as a final contract. Notwithstanding that, South felt he was worth a slam try of four clubs, and as soon as he found the heart control opposite, he drove to slam, assuming that his partner must have a top spade for his no-trump call at his second turn.

The small slam certainly looks like a fine spot, but the bad trump break complicated matters somewhat. However, South was equal to the task.

The opening lead of the heart queen was taken in dummy, and a low trump was led to South’s queen, disclosing the bad split.

When West discarded, South led out the diamond king and surrendered the trick to West’s ace. Back came a spade, which declarer won in dummy. He next ruffed a diamond low, then had to take the risk of crossing to a second spade in dummy to ruff another diamond. Now came the club ace and two more rounds of trump, extracting all of East’s clubs. This produced a three-card ending, in which dummy had the spade three and diamond jack, plus a small heart, while South discarded his spade ace to retain three hearts. West could not discard his spade jack or diamond queen without setting up a winner in dummy for a repeating squeeze on himself, so he pitched a heart. Declarer now led to his heart king and cashed his two remaining hearts to bring home the slam.

Had you doubled in direct seat and heard partner respond one heart, you would surely have passed now. With the diamond king not pulling its full weight, you would be unwise to indicate you had real extras. But your partner could easily have up to a 10-count and might do no more than bid one heart when facing a balancing double. So you should make a mild invitation to game by raising to two hearts.


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


ClarksburgApril 17th, 2013 at 11:55 am

Mr. Wolff,
In BWTA, after South’s Two Heart call, what if North can’t go directly to game, but assesses and judges there may still be a chance?
How should North best go about telling more about his hand shape, and passing the ball back to South?

bobbywolffApril 17th, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

North, if he wanted to suggest a game without actually bidding it, might bid a simple 3 hearts inviting partner to bid 4, or to bid another suit, showing some length and value in that suit to more scientifically give partner information in which to base whether he will accept the invitation. Very simple, not rocket science.

GregoryApril 17th, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Mr. Wolff,
Do you agree with West one Sp overcall? I would probably chose Dbl with this hand

bobbywolffApril 17th, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Hi Gregory,

I agree with your choice of double, but only by a small margin.

Double gets the three unbid suits in play, but somewhat overstates values, in the event of a misfit (no 8 card fit between the hands) and if so, partner figures to be disappointed if he either jumps in NT or, when the bidding gets higher feels compelled to double them, expecting more defense from partner.

Also 1 spade, although extremely poor for lead directing when partner becomes the leader, has the advantage of being immediately raised, especially with a jump, and then buying the hand, keeping your distribution a deep, dark secret from the wary opponents. Also, in the relatively unlikely case that the partner of the 1 spade bidder freely bids one of the red suits in response, your hand becomes immense and eventually may well be doubled, but with a very good final result for your side.

All of the above back and forth is used by me to indicate that the decision you inquire about has a large number of pluses but also a fair amount of minuses.

Everything considered I rate a double 100%, 1 spade 85% and pass 0%.

I hope that I didn’t confuse you more than I enlightened you.

Iain ClimieApril 17th, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Hi Bobby, Gregory,

I thought of double too although it highlights the locations of the high cards too well here. A further problem is when partner with (say) CKQJ9x(x) and stray bits passes, awaiting the trump lead for +500 only to write down -340 when you can’t lead one.