Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked.

Warren Buffett

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



When South heard his partner show a strong hand he had a way to make a mild slam try in spades, and North was happy to accept.

Declarer won the opening diamond lead and drew two rounds of trump, then crossed to a top heart and ruffed a diamond, stripped off the hearts and exited with a third spade, hoping to receive a club shift. However, West had a safe exit with his fourth heart, and declarer had to concede a club trick in the end.

Instead of exiting with a trump at trick eight, declarer should ruff another diamond in hand. Now West must pitch a club — if he overruffs he is endplayed, either to lead a club, or to give declarer a ruff and discard.

At this point declarer finesses in clubs and ruffs the last diamond, and now West is caught in an unusual squeeze. While West has no real need to retain his last heart, if he discards it, declarer exits with the last spade. West is endplayed and must lead clubs round to declarer, and the defense’s sure trick has vanished.

West’s only chance here is to bare his club king instead of throwing the 13th heart — now South may misread the position, by leading his last trump and trying to endplay West with his trump trick. Then West would have the 13th heart to cash.

Of course declarer may not misguess the position, but you have to give him the chance to go wrong!

While you would not have considered any action other than a one heart call had East passed, here you should not introduce a weak four-card suit when you are distinctly at the lower end of the range for a response. I'd suggest passing initially, with a view to balancing with one no-trump if the opponents come to rest in one spade.


♠ Q J 10
 10 8 6 3
 9 7
♣ K 9 4 3
South West North East
1 Dbl.

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


Jane ANovember 14th, 2013 at 3:00 pm

East should have been wearing a wet suit to open his hand at all. Plus he needs shark repellant! But a very interesting hand regardless. One point you made is that south’s four club bid is not Gerber, and to me, this is very important. My mentor pointed out more than once that this bid has to be stayman. Maybe everybody knows this, but it is still good to reinforce. Four NT would be quantitive, right? I imagine you would recommend cue bidding aces after the three NT bid to look for slam if south did not have that nice major? Could south use a Texas transfer and then investigate slam to get the hand right sided? I know this would have to be system agreement.

Thanks, as always.

Bobby WolffNovember 14th, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Hi Jane A,

You bring reasons for interesting partnership discussions, following follow up to a partnership’s jammed auction, once East opens his very weak hand with 3 diamonds.

Probably 4 clubs should be Stayman, but it could mean a club suit, worth bidding along with a good hand in relation to not having bid originally over his RHO’s 3 diamond opening.

A simple choice instead would be either a very conservative 4 spade probable final bid for the partnership or just a jump to 5 spades, allowing partner the opportunity to make the mistake (of either passing or raising).

Never forget the advantage of such an action in absolving oneself of doing the wrong thing and at the same time, putting your partner in the crosshair. Only kidding, but still fun to do, especially to get revenge on certain partners.

Since, as Shakespeare once said, “the play’s the thing” and so it is on this hand.

Thanks for writing and be sure to inform your partner that he made if only as merely an enthusiastic opponent.

See you tomorrow.

Herreman RDecember 29th, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Bridge is beautiful !