Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, December 6th, 2013

For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

Alexander Pope

South North
Neither ♠ 4 3 2
 J 10 4
 5 3 2
♣ 10 8 7 4
West East
♠ 10 8 7 6
 Q 9 7 6 5 3
♣ A 9
♠ J
 A 8 2
 Q J 10 9 8 6 4
♣ J 6
♠ A K Q 9 5
 A 7
♣ K Q 5 3 2
South West North East
1♣* 2 Pass 4
4♠ All pass    

*Strong; 16-plus, any hand.


One of my more prolific correspondents is Tim Bourke from Australia, who has written about the arcane side of bridge as well as expounding on basic technique. He sent me this fascinating deal that he had played recently, which includes elements of both sides of the game.

For those of you who prefer the auction using standard methods, I suggest you focus simply on how to make four spades, without worrying about the strong-club opening bid.

The spade game looks to be off a trick in each suit, but on a heart lead to the ace and a shift to the diamond queen (reasonable enough, though a heart continuation would have worked better), the hand can now be made, despite the bad trump break.

Bourke took the diamond ace, cashed just two top spades, finding the bad news, then played the club king (carefully unblocking the eight from dummy). West took his ace, then got out with the club nine to the 10, jack and queen.

Now Bourke cashed the remaining high spade and exited with a spade to West. That player had nothing but hearts left, and was obliged to lead the heart queen. Bourke ruffed with his last trump, led the club two to dummy’s seven to allow him to cash dummy’s heart winner and discard his diamond loser, then was able to come back to hand by leading dummy’s priceless club four to his five, to cash the club three at trick 13.

Three clubs is forcing to game; you might think it sensible to pass (and you might even be right at the table), but if partner has game in his own hand, he will not be happy. Over the three-club call, many players, including me, play the next step of three diamonds to be a second negative, typically 0-4 high-card points, or no satisfactory alternative call. In context, this bid seems best.


♠ 4 3 2
 J 10 4
 5 3 2
♣ 10 8 7 4
South West North East
2♣ 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