Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Sweet Analytics, 'tis thou hast ravished me!

Christopher Marlowe

South North
Neither ♠ J 8 6 5 2
 K Q 6 2
♣ K 4 3
West East
♠ Q 10 9 4
 A K 10 9 7
♣ J 7 6
♠ 7
 J 6 4 3 2
 9 8 4 3
♣ Q 10 8
♠ A K 3
 Q 5
 A J 10 7
♣ A 9 5 2
South West North East
1♣ 2♣* 2** Pass
3♠ Pass 4♠ All pass

*5-4 majors



An online discussion group devoted to bridge, called "," features problems and discussions. A while ago Andrzej Matuszewski posted this neat deal, in which you reach four spades after West has shown at least nine cards in the majors (and yes, five diamonds might have been easier). Plan the play on the defense of two top hearts.

If you ruff the second heart and play ace, king and a third round of trumps, West will win and lead hearts, forcing dummy to ruff with the master trump. Equally, if you discard a losing club from dummy at trick two, a third round of hearts dooms you, whichever hand you take the ruff in.

A good try is to ruff the second heart and cash the club ace, then cross to the spade ace and lead a second club to the king. If West has a singleton club, he does best to discard a diamond. You would then lead out your winning diamonds, and West must discard twice. That allows declarer simply to draw trump in the ending. However, today, with West having a third club, he simply ruffs the second diamond and cashes a club, with a trump trick to come.

The solution is to ruff the heart at trick two, and lead a spade to the ace and a low spade from hand. West must win his queen and play another heart, but you throw a club from dummy and ruff in hand, and now lose just one more trump trick.

This auction is forcing, suggesting an original 6-4 hand pattern. With a singleton heart, you do not want to play in that suit unless partner insists, and with no aces you cannot jump to five diamonds. Your choice is to revert to four diamonds or bid three no-trump — and you have no source of tricks unless partner's hearts are semisolid or better. That argues for a four-diamond call.


♠ J 8 6 5 2
 K Q 6 2
♣ K 4 3
South West North East
1 Pass
1♠ Pass 2 Pass
3 Pass 3 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


Iain ClimieJuly 16th, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Hi Bobby,

A couple of thoughts on the bidding of today’s hand. Firstly, I’m surprised East didn’t try 3H (or even 4H). Secondly, do I hear the ghost of JT Reese shouting “I told you so”. He had some non-standard views but this is a hand he would surely have quoted to support his gripes about weak or moderate 2-suited overcalls.

If West had just bid 1H, North would bid 1S (I expect) and might well have bashed down SAK in 4S after hearts at T1 and T2 – ouch. The column play is a lovely safety play even without the tip-off from West’s bid. It would be very easy to miss at the table, though. It sacrifices a high trump to retain control thus turning a club loser into an affordable trump loser. I wonder if anyone would have found it at the table.



bobby wolffJuly 16th, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Hi Iain,

In a general answer to your right-on description of the very top bridge players of yesterday, which JT Reese was certainly one of them, maybe the greatest, his gripes about 2 suited overcalls has been discarded by other top players of the modern age.

Since the scoring system caters to putting pressure on the opponents, not only to be a good sacrifice, but on a particularly good day, even a make, and if not, pushing the opponents one beyond a level in which they can make, most all of the modern bridge players have many methods which show such distributions, particularly when the high card power is with the opponents, but leaving the distributional assets to trump (literally) their opponents.

On today’s hand I doubt whether I can recall a hand where an opponent has announced a two suited hand (usually 5+-5+) and instead one of their opponents winds up declaring in that suit, but fiction is fiction and it can well happen, but rarely, if ever, does.

Anyway you, as usual analyze this particular hand well, as to whether most bridge players would guess how to play this hand, and, of course, the bidding needs to indicate where the cards are, for without that, it is not a good story.

Much rhetoric above, but all to explain the power of the author to emphasize what he wants to get across.

Thanks for your comment.