Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 24th, 2013

People who like this sort of thing will find it the sort of thing they like.

Abraham Lincoln

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


The following example of a double throw-in is not especially complex, but the satisfaction that derives from being able to offer both opponents an unpalatable choice is a rich one.

If you had reached three no-trump after West’s weak-two opening bid, there would have been no story of course, since nine tricks are easy enough. But in four hearts on a spade lead, you win in hand and play a heart to the ace, then take two more rounds of trumps. West exits with another top spade, and you take it in dummy. What now?

Since West has nine cards in the majors, you are actually guaranteed to make your contract in very straightforward fashion. The solution is very simple; simply cash the ace-king in both minor suits.

When you cash the minor-suit winners, if West follows twice in both minors, you can take your choice of plain-suit cards to lead now — they all work. But if, as here, West turns up with a singleton club, you simply exit by leading a diamond (and vice versa).

If West is allowed to score his diamond jack, he can also cash a spade trick, but must then play another spade and allow your club loser to vanish. If East overtakes the diamond jack to cash a club, then he is left with only minor-suit cards to play, and the defenders never get their spade winner. Either way, one opponent is going to be left feeling very irritated!

Cue-bid three spades, planning to follow up with a bid of four diamonds over a three no-trump bid from your partner. You are certainly going to go to at least six diamonds, but you would like partner to take control — you have a much better hand to answer questions than ask them, since your hand is all controls.


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


Shantanu RastogiNovember 7th, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Hello Mr Wolff

In BWTA though it is very unlikely that partner wont have Club Ace or Queen but there is a possibilty of West having both AQ of Clubs and QJ of Spades with partner having S Kx H AQJ D KQJxxx C Jx in which case 6 D wouldnt make but 6 NT by South would make. Isnt it better to rightside the NT contract and how it should be done ? Also, I think establish partnership would be able to find Club lead once NT is bid by partner.

best regards

Shantanu Rastogi

jim2November 7th, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Perhaps the opening lead should be won on the Board. Then, if East follows small to the second heart, declarer could insert the 10/9.

That would allow declarer to still make it via a spade throw-in if West were:



Q9xx (and West does not find the 9C exit)

Bobby WolffNovember 7th, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Hi Shantanu,

While your philosophy and your actual example were right on (except possibly that North would first respond 4 hearts not 3NT to South’s 3 spade cue bid since AQJ in partner’s major suit, is not chopped liver, and usually more important information to partner than 3NT) causing bridge to be not as exact as many bridge players vainly hope that it is.

The result being that sometimes we do play hands from the wrong side and a brilliant lead by an opponent (not leading his partner’s suit, but rather the unbid) and then catching partner with the perfect holding and over the dummy’s king will ring the bell for them. However as Damon Runyon said, “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that is the way to bet” and bridge only lends itself to percentage actions, with sometimes the result (in order to get accurate knowledge) causes us to wrong side the hand.

All I am saying is, although I agree with you, it is unrealistic for South to take control without including hearing more from partner about his hand. By then doing so, sometimes bad things happen, but that is part of the game and, at least up to now, I do not know of a better way to go about it.

Thanks for bringing up this subject, and although it shows an imperfect part of advanced bridge bidding, it is realistic and necessary for aspiring potentially terrific bridge players to understand the pitfalls as well as the techniques.

There is just not enough language available (bidding) to be able to get anywhere close to perfection and the best course IMO is to just accept that condition.

Bobby WolffNovember 7th, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, your excellent technique is certainly noted, but since this was not a reported actual hand and to remind you of Lincoln’s simple lead off quote we put the jack of hearts doubleton in East’s hand to ward off that bridge bogey man.

If bridge in schools would ever begin in the USA (and I wish all of North America) you would be a leading instructor, since the extra nuances of your analysis are always valuable.

Herreman RDecember 27th, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Bridge is beautiful