Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Physicians are like kings — they brook no contradiction.

John Webster

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


There is a lot to be said for the idea that playing bridge against opponents you can trust (either to play well or badly!) makes your life considerably easier.

Today’s deal came up in the later stages of a national knockout competition, so it was logical for declarer to assume that his opponents would not have done something dramatically inferior in defense.

Put yourself in South’s seat. You have reached four spades, and your chances do not seem so great on a low diamond lead, but when dummy’s diamond king holds, things look up. Also, you can tell that you are playing against resourceful opponents — just from the opening lead!

You draw two rounds of trump, ending in hand, and lead a heart to the jack and king. East cashes a diamond and returns the heart 10, on which West unblocks the queen. You ruff the last heart, cross to dummy in trumps, and lead a low club, intending to put in the seven. Naturally, East thwarts you by playing the club eight, so you try the queen, losing to the king. West returns a low club. What now?

Well, restricted choice might suggest playing low — but there is a much sounder argument for putting in the six, the winning play at the table. The reason? East, a fine player, would have broken up the endplay earlier on by shifting to a club when in with the heart king had he started with three small clubs.

Let's talk about the art and science of overcalling. Although I strongly advocate keeping your two-level overcalls up to strength, preferably on six-card suits, I am equally strongly in favor of overcalling at the one-level when given the chance. That means bidding when I have values, or a chunky suit, regardless of vulnerability. Yes, we'd all prefer better spades, but beggars cannot be choosers.


♠ Q 6 5 4 3
 A J 5
 K 7
♣ 10 6 2
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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieJuly 23rd, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Hi Bobby,

A quick minor question on East’s dbl today on the column hand. Is it really sensible as it could induce partner to lead round to DKx or even stiff K with south? I wonder whether such doubles should always have the Ace or King to be useful, and whether they should guarantee length. If East had DKx in such a case West would be very happy to lead a small diamond.



Bobby WolffJuly 23rd, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Hi Iain,

Again, you are, at least from my judgment, on target.

East’s diamond interest should be in the form of bidding 4 diamonds instead of doubling, which, in turn, should be, as you say, more lead directing than offensive oriented.

It may also be of interest that while NS are scoring up their game EW, in spite of West’s rather minimum overcall (and that is being charitable) will still probably take 9 tricks, making a 5 diamond sacrifice a profitable venture over the result obtained.

Of course, securing a diamond lead when partner might hold only the KJxxx may be worth it, but bridge, being the game it is, with poisoned flowers growing everywhere, definitely needs at least, some discipline.

So, perhaps your minor question possibly has provoked a question which most aspiring partnerships should want to discuss.

Thanks, mightily, for that.