Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 13th, 2013

Happiness is not the absence of problems; it's the ability to deal with them.

Steve Maraboli

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


The small slam in spades was a fair bet on this deal, but the trump break seemed to make South's task impossible. Never a player to give up lightly, declarer set West a problem that he failed to solve.

West led the club jack and, after winning, declarer played off the two top trumps to reveal the loser in the suit. With no clear idea in mind, he led a third trump and noted that West (who had already thrown a club) brooded for a little before discarding the diamond two. After winning with his trump queen, East pushed through the heart nine.

At this point South could have settled for one off, but risking a larger loss, he won with the heart ace and played off his remaining trumps. On the first of these, West threw the heart queen, but on the last, something vital had to go. In the vain hope that his partner held 10-third in diamonds, West let a second diamond go and suddenly South had four tricks in the suit.

It was true that West was squeezed, but he knew that declarer now had only 10 top tricks. A club discard looks illogical since it would give South an 11th trick immediately. However, West would now be discarding after declarer (who would have to use the diamond king to reach the clubs), and there would be no additional pressure on the defenders, with East’s heart eight now controlling that suit if necessary.

Once East is known to have extra length in hearts, the chance that partner also has too many hearts (and thus only a three-card spade suit) is greatly diminished. That being the case, you should invite game, rather than drive to game, and the simplest way to do so is to jump to three spades. If partner cannot bid game now, you won't make it!


♠ A K 9 6
 7 4
 K 8 3
♣ A K Q 5
South West North East
Dbl. Pass 1♠ 2

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 27th, 2013 at 6:06 pm

HI Bobby,

I gather a simple rule here is to guard the suit(s) held on your right if you are not sure exactly what is happening. It certainly works on this occasion, although West could do better in terms of counting the hand – South is surely 5-1 in the black suits so has 7 red cards. Dumping the diamond fails horribly if the cards are as here and throwing the other heart ends in disaster if South has AJ10x. Shedding a club means that South, whatever his red suit holding, gets mangled first by the winning clubs.


Iain Climie

Patrick CheuJuly 27th, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Hi Bobby,pard and I could not agree on the bidding,your thoughts would be appreciated on this hand-East AKJ86 1063 AQJ93 Void.West 3 Q97 1082 AKJ874.West(dealer)pass. East 1S.West 2C(9+).East 2D.West 2NT.East 3NT.Minus 2.Seems like East can make 3D,West can make 4D,if played by either. Is West correct in bidding 2NT,or 3C or pass 2D?If 3C,East presumably bids 3D and West ?Over 2NT,pard maintains I should bid 3D(forc presumably),which I do not disagree,but how to stop in 3D or 4D?Regards-Patrick.

Bobby WolffJuly 27th, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Hi Iain,

Sometimes its hard just to find justification for the opponents getting lucky against you. Here South got very fortunate with the EW distributions, but to his credit he took advantage of it. Never give up!

Bobby WolffJuly 28th, 2013 at 12:03 am

Hi Patrick,

Truthfully, I will endorse the actual sequence between you and partner, although 3NT turns out to be a poor contract.

I approve West’s choice of his 2NT rebid since, when faced with a difficult decision, choose the one which runs toward daylight, and declaring 3NT is worth the risk of bidding it. Sometimes dummy becomes much more suitable than what East held, but chalk it up to”That’s bridge Mister”, but keep on being aggressive and the game will often reward your choice.

I also approve of your choice of 3NT because while obviously 3 diamonds is the right contract, your partner will raise you and soon you will be in 5 not making.

If a partnership hardly ever goes set, the only sure reason is that they are not bidding enough.

Patrick CheuJuly 28th, 2013 at 8:09 am

Hi Bobby,many thanks yet again for your illuminating answer,sure pard would be delighted by your endorsement,I will pass it on!Happy days are here,we have lovely sunshine just like Vegas,where the Cavendish tournament used to be held.Regards-Patrick.