Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

There be triple ways to take, of the eagle or the snake,
Or the way of a man with a maid.

Rudyard Kipling

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


When the three bears returned from the duplicate club, Goldilocks did not have to ask how things had gone, since Mama Bear immediately thrust the hand records in front of her and asked for sympathy.

In today’s deal she had sat West and had led a spade against two hearts. The defenders took their ruff, but Mama had led back a high spade to the third trick to ask for a diamond. Her partner obliged, but the defenders could now take only one diamond and one heart trick, so the contract came home. Had Mama signaled for a club, the defenders could have avoided any endplay — so long as Mama subsequently hopped up with the heart ace and exited in that suit.

At another table Papa Bear had declared two hearts on a club lead. He won in hand and led a heart; West took her ace, then gave her partner the spade ruff, and East thoughtfully exited with a second club. Now declarer had to lose two diamonds whatever he did.

Goldilocks noted that Baby Bear was waiting impatiently to be asked what he had done on the deal. “I was declaring two hearts on a club lead and cashed both clubs, ending in hand. Then I led a heart up, and West won and played for the spade ruff. The difference was that when East ruffed the third spade, he had no choice but to give me a ruff-sluff with a club, or open up diamonds to my advantage.”

Your partner's double is for takeout, suggesting the unbid suit and values. You have a straightforward call of one no-trump, which simply suggests a balanced hand, typically one with a little something in both black suits. Of course, you will not always be dealt a hand with such ideal holdings in spades and clubs.


♠ Q J 3
 Q 9 7 5 2
 A 5 4
♣ A 10
South West North East
1 1♠ Dbl. 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


David WarheitNovember 12th, 2013 at 10:17 am

At the fourth table, EW played 3C which is ice cold as the cards lie. Admittedly, this is rather lucky, since clubs are 2-2 & spades 3-3 (& diamonds lie well, although that was to be expected). I suppose on the given vulnerability (& that we’re playing duplicate) that EW should not be so adventurous, but what thinkest thou?

Bobby WolffNovember 12th, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Hi David,

I thinkest that your discussion has much merit and only proves, at least to me, that bridge, and possibly matchpoints, at least at times, is even more so, resulting in a bidder’s game.

For not only, as you surmised, 3 clubs a make, but with the two even black suit distributions (2-2 and 3-3) so is 2 spades (l spade to lose, 1 heart, 1 diamond and 2 clubs). However with even 1 of those suits being either 4-2 and/or 3-1 EW will, if doubled, go down the dreaded 200 at those contracts. While defending against 2 spades, even constant heart leads can be overcome by declarer.

Is there anything to be learned from this simple part score battle? Although I would be reluctant to either bid 2 spades or 3 clubs with the East hand during the first bid around. both get the job done, and there is an additional real life bonus. Even if the opponents, with different more defensive distributions, are able to judge better and profitably be able to double East’s aggressive actions, will they?

Perhaps, but as one of my mentors, Johnny Gerber, advised me 60 years ago when one bids aggressively many times the opponents have to come out of their shell with their own boldness and oft times they do not do it.

Result: It only adds to the first paragraph above, that pressure on the opponents, particularly good ones who will declare well, is the best course when playing against them since if they hold the lion’s share of the cards like they do here (22HCP’s to 18 and a nine card major suit fit) our side will have to suffer a tie for bottom (probably about 20% on the board with -110 while defending 2 hearts after no spade lead) so why not die with our boots on and compete?

In actuality I have no real opinion since the downside for competing EW is also significant, but I only mention the above for your wise consideration.