Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters.

Solomon Short

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


Professional courtesy among journalists (some would call it honor among thieves) prevents me from specifying which of my colleagues ran this deal in one of his books.

The author suggested that in four spades, declarer should find the winning line of ducking the first spade after winning the club lead in dummy. That holds the trump losers to one and is certainly a successful line — though it would fail against 3-2 trumps, since the defenders can switch to hearts and promote East’s third trump!

The writer also goes a step too far when he says that this line is essential if you want to make the contract. Let’s revisit the play on a club lead to dummy’s ace. Declarer leads a trump to the king and ace, and the defenders now have a choice. On a heart shift, declarer ducks, then wins the next heart to play the spade queen, jack and a third trump, then claims the rest. If West switches back to clubs after the first heart holds, declarer ruffs and plays ace and another heart, ruffing in dummy. East does best to discard, but declarer comes to hand with a diamond and ruffs the fourth heart. All the defenders score is their trump trick.

It looks better for the defenders to lead a top club at trick three. Declarer ruffs, and only now does he lead a low trump! East wins and plays another club; declarer discards a heart from hand and ruffs the next club in dummy, comes to hand with a diamond, draws trump and claims.

This auction suggests partner has real clubs as well as four hearts. (With a balanced hand, partner would rebid one no-trump; our sequence strongly suggests we have no major if we have less than invitational values.) Nonetheless, my choice is to rebid one no-trump here, despite possibly wrong-siding our spade stop. We can always get back to clubs if partner is minimum and shapely.


♠ 6 4 3
 7 5
 A J 5 3 2
♣ A 8 7
South West North East
1♣ Pass
1 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


Bill CubleyJune 18th, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Perhaps you could become technical editor for other columnists for a cut of the action. Alas, you cannot be a consultant when I try to play a difficult hand.

Patrick CheuJune 18th, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Hi Bobby,BWTA,this hand may be easier for South,if he could bid one spade(4th suit 8/9+)forcing to 1NT only, if opener is minimum and has a spade stop.Or do you play one spade here as game forcing 12+?Regards-Patrick.

bobby wolffJune 18th, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Hi Bill,

Thanks for your kind, uplifting words.

The above hand only represents what life is about, when all of us (or most) or subject to being wrong, but at the same time stick our necks out, rather than quadruple check, and by so doing, use too much of our energy.

Time has taught me, or so I think, to proceed ahead, and as far as bridge is concerned, interpret rules to benefit the good guys (ethical and progressive) and disfavor the ones who are always angling for advantage.

Taking close hands to appeal, especially ones against well intended opponents, are not what I consider desirable, nor good for the game, unless the action taken is thought to be malicious or really bad for the game. That is not to say that partnerships are not entitled to protect themselves against unethical players.

My hope is that first competent TD’s and then appeals committees glean experience in what I am talking about and follow suit in kind.

bobby wolffJune 18th, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Hi Patrick,

I play 1 spade in the discussed sequence a one round force, but not GF. However, it should usually (almost always, 99% with AKQ, xx, xxxxxx, AQ possibly being the exception) possess 4 spades while a jump to 2 spades denies 4 spades but, of course, creates a GF.

Those two caveats, taken in toto, will lay a good foundation for early round bidding, keep it simple, and most importantly, become very automatic and therefore useful.

Patrick CheuJune 18th, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Hi Bobby, The above hand is certainly worth revisiting,your in depth analysis has highlighted the many twists and turns for both defence and declarer,especially the last paragraph!Regards-Patrick.(Last but not least,thanks for your above advice.)

Howard Bigot-JohnsonJune 18th, 2013 at 9:37 pm

HBJ : Solomon unfortunately failed to point out that hammers and bridgemates will be the top two dangerous weapons a fool of a bridge player will choose to lay his hands on.