Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 20th, 2013

It is life near the bone where it is sweetest.

Henry David Thoreau

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


Before we look at the play in today's deal, from the later stages of the Asia Pacific Bridge Games from Fukuoka, Japan, last year, analyze the bidding problem South had. He heard his partner overcall two clubs over one diamond, and he advanced with a two-diamond cue-bid, to which his partner responded three clubs, suggesting no major and nothing to say. In one room the South player now passed — reasonable, if pessimistic — and his partner emerged with 10 tricks. So his action was well-judged, up to a point.

(Incidentally, though, another possibility for North would have been to bid three diamonds over the double of two diamonds, to suggest good clubs and no clear direction on the hand, looking for a diamond stopper for three no-trump.)

At the other table in our featured match, after Zhou Jiahong’s three-club call, Lian Yong’s three-spade bid at his second turn (normally suggesting five) gave Zhou a chance to head for the best game of four spades.

Against four spades the defenders led and continued diamonds. Declarer ruffed, advanced the spade 10 (covered all around), then ruffed a second diamond in dummy and came to the club queen to draw as many trumps as he could before running the clubs. East could ruff in whenever he wanted, but that was the defenders’ last trick.

Incidentally, had West shifted to the heart king at trick two, declarer wins the ace, leads the spade 10, and simply ducks East’s queen to retain control.

You would like to get to three no-trump here, but rather than bid game without a spade stopper, or find yourself playing that contract the wrong way up (facing a doubleton spade-king for example), bid three hearts to show your values and let partner bid no-trump if he can.


♠ 10 6 4
 A 9 8
♣ A K J 9 6 3
South West North East
1♣ Pass 1 Pass
2♣ 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


Patrick CheuOctober 5th, 2013 at 2:52 am

Hi Bobby,how would you play 3D here by South,is it GF and 44majors and 13+,or could be half diamond stopper and asks North for Jx or Qx or Jxx?Think 4H would also make here.Regards~Patrick.

Bobby WolffOctober 5th, 2013 at 5:06 am

Hi Patrick,

I assume you are discussing the column hand and after South has already bid 2 cue bid diamonds and had his partner make a minimum response in his overcalled suit, clubs. However, you might be referring to an immediate jump to 3 diamonds over partner’s 2 club intervention.

In inverse order, an immediate 3 diamond jump would show a club fit, but NGF, if partner only returns to 4 clubs. By so doing however, it is the strongest raise short of GF, of course, hoping partner could bid 3NT oir even if he does, then a return to 4 clubs would definitely be GF and possibly looking for a slam.

Remember, partner is certainly expected to bid a 4 card major, if he has one, even if it is very weak. Once partner does not bid a 4 card major over 2 or 3 diamonds do not play him foir one. If a 2 diamond cue bidder than bids a major suit on his own the next round it is GF and at least a fair to better 5 carder. All this leaves a 2 of a major suit response to partner’s 2 club overcall NF and only competitive, but of course a decent 5+ card suit.

The overall theme, which no one should ever forget is that a simple cue bid in these circumstances only says, “Pllease do something intelligent partner.” The principle to be learned is that the cue bidder is flexible and is interested in bigger things than part scores, but does not want to force the partnership above their making level. Rarely will a person cue bid without, at least some fit in partner’s suit, unless his hand is distributionally very powerful.

I hope the above helps and discussions with partner should then set specific guidelines to which both partners will feel comfortable.

Patrick CheuOctober 5th, 2013 at 7:29 am

Hi Bobby,sincere thanks for your helpful thoughts on the above hand.Therefore does one assume that after 2D by South,and pard bids 3C,South’s 3D now would be asking North to bid 3NT with Qx or Jxx?

Patrick CheuOctober 5th, 2013 at 7:35 am

Hi Bobby,sorry,I meant on the bidding sequence above not necessary on this South’s hand..

Bobby WolffOctober 5th, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Hi Patrick,

3NT should always be a consideration in planning the meaning of what cue bids should mean and yes, I as a responder would never forget that possibility if, sometimes, only holding a half stop, since sometimes with Qx and also with J10x or even Jxx allow a partnership to take the short route to a makeable game (9 tricks instead of more) especially when NT always works better when Qx is declarer when and if partner has either Axx or Kxx and sometimes when partner only has Ax.