Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, December 27th, 2013

All good things which exist are the fruits of originality.

John Stuart Mill

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


When South makes a jump shift at his second turn, there is a case for North to rebid spades rather than raise diamonds. However, his actual choice made reaching slam much easier.

The play in six diamonds should develop in straightforward fashion. South wins the opening lead with the club ace, cashes the trump ace to find the bad news, then must play the top hearts, discarding clubs from table.

East ruffs the third heart and plays back a club to force dummy to ruff, a play that is as good as anything for the defense. After ruffing, declarer must now lead the spade king, planning to take the ruffing finesse. East covers and South trumps, then ruffs a club back to dummy and discards his heart losers on the two spade winners. All that remains is to finesse against East’s trump queen, and declarer can claim his 12 tricks.

East does better to discard a spade on the third heart, rather than ruffing in. Now declarer ruffs a club to dummy and leads the spade king, covered and ruffed.

Declarer ruffs another club to dummy and throws a heart on the spade queen. Then he leads dummy’s last spade winner, overruffs East, and ruffs his heart loser with the diamond jack. East can now score just one trump trick whatever he does.

Since a jump to three spades would be based on shape not high cards, your choice is to bid three hearts as a spade raise or double for takeout, then bid spades. I prefer the second route; with a defensive hand, you don't want partner saving in four spades prematurely. By showing your strength first, you save him from error.


♠ A 8 4
 J 3
 Q 9 6 2
♣ K Q J 2
South West North East
1 1♠ 2

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 RastogiJanuary 10th, 2014 at 10:26 am

Dear Mr Wolff

In BWTA if South posseses a 4th Spade would you still double or then a 3 heart cue would be better ?

best regards

Shantanu Rastogi

bobby wolffJanuary 10th, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Hi Shantanu.

Yes. with a 4th spade I would cue bid first, but I believe that cue bids after a major suit opening should be GF and not a limit raise or better.

The reason being is that with the overcallers continuing the competition (e.g his partner continues to either 3 spades or 4 hearts, depending on the suits) a simple bid of game by the opener becomes unclear whether the opening bidders side is bidding to make or sacrificing, therefore confusing the opening bidder’s side as to overall strength as the bidding gets competitive at the higher level.

Not a very large point, but enough to, at least to me, cause a significant negative with that popular convention. Obviously I like to know the strength of partner ASAP rather than be in a quandary and have to guess since IMO being right in high level competitive hands is ultra important and often the difference in a close match against good players.

jim2January 10th, 2014 at 4:33 pm

I must confess that I understood (and agreed with) the original BWTA.

On Shantanu Rastogi’s follow-up question, I thought it would be important to know where that fourth spade came from. That is, if South were “now” 4-1-4-4, I think the stronger bid would be both justified and important (since partner was probably looking at three small hearts. Make South’s new shape 4-2-3-4 (for example), however, and I would be more cautious.

The second paragraph of the reply confuses me, because this BWTA did not include “a major suit opening” but rather an overcall. Was the intent to indicate that a cue after an overcall was different? If so, does it mean LR or better? (Hence, the “new” BWTA hand is a LR or better, but not one that would that would have justified a cue bid if West had passed and East’s two heart bid were an overcall of North’s opening one spade.)

Could you explain it a bit more?

bobby wolffJanuary 10th, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Hi Jim2,

Mea culpa!

I overlooked the fact that the BWTA was talking about overcalls and yes I do agree with cue bidding, to let partner know that I have a good hand so that he will better know how to compete when (and if) the bidding gets higher.

By what I said (you picked it up) I was thinking about responding to an opening bid rather than an overcall (which can be significantly lighter and almost void of defense) meaning everything should be handled differently.

Thanks for being alert and again I apologize, also to Shantanu.