Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, December 19th, 2013

To be alive is power,
Existence in itself,
Without a further function,
Omnipotence enough.

Emily Dickinson

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


One of the pairs fighting for the top honors at the 1998 Cavendish was Bart Bramley, playing with Sidney Lazard. Sidney is one of an elite group of players who represented the U.S. in world championship play in the 1950s. By my count we are now down to a handful of such players, including Ivar Stakgold and Billy Rosen. Bart is a representative of the next generation who has now started a partnership with another of my regular teammates, Lew Stansby.

Bart drew an interesting inference to bring home this delicate four-diamond contract.

On the spade-king lead and continuation, Bramley put up the spade jack to force the queen and to confirm the location of the spade honors. He ruffed, drew two rounds of trumps, then led a club to the king. Now came a third diamond to dummy, and a second club.

East, Michael Cornell, took the ace and played a third club. Bramley won and paused to count up the hand. Since East clearly had both round aces to justify his cue-bid and had also shown up with the spade queen, he was less likely to have the heart jack than his partner — the point being that he might have opened the bidding with that hand, playing a weak no-trump that started at 11 high-card points. So Bart advanced the heart 10, and whether Lionel Wright covered that card or not, Bramley had his 10th trick.

This sort of double is not for penalties. When you start by making a takeout double, you can't turn your hand into a penalty double the next time around. This sequence shows a really good hand (one that would have cue-bid two clubs if the call hadn't been stolen). With extra values but no extra length anywhere and thus no clear bid, you can fall back on the cue-bid of three clubs to show precisely this.


♠ J 8 2
 Q 6 3
 K J 7 6
♣ 9 5 3
South West North East
1♣ Dbl. Pass
1 2♣ 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


Patrick CheuJanuary 2nd, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Hi Bobby, a nice hand on deduction,the difference between succeess or failure at the table can often be down to just locating the missing Jack or Nine of Hearts as is the case here,with help from the bidding or system used.Thanks for your helpful comment on yesterday’s hand and re Jim’s question on 2H by North,I should have given more thought to North’s other possible hand shapes,as highlighted by both your discussions.Happy New Year to you and Judy,and all our fellow readers here.Very Best Regards~Patrick.

Bobby WolffJanuary 2nd, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Hi Patrick,

And don’t forget, once a decision is made, counter percentage on this hand (2 cards have to be right instead of just 1), and in an important challenging event one has to bear the brunt of the blame should he be wrong.

Broad shoulders are required. Been there you know, and have, of course, been wrong.

A return very happy and healthy New Year to you and yours.