Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and THEN do your best.

W. Edwards Deming

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


In today's deal North's raise of two hearts to three was just a little pushy. However, since his double was in the balancing seat, South might easily have held up to a 10-count for his minimum response in hearts. South accepted the invitation, since he did have a little in hand, and West led the spade two against the game.

When East took his ace, the killing diamond switch looked somewhat unappealing, so he returned a spade to the king. After drawing trump in three rounds and ruffing a spade, declarer led a low club to the jack and ace. The club 10 lost to the king, and when the clubs did not break, two diamonds eventually had to be lost.

If declarer had realized that his game needed a favorable lie of the clubs, there would have been no need to fear a club ruff. Accordingly, this suit should have been tackled earlier. There was the extra chance that East (who was marked with most of the missing points) held the king doubleton — together with a significant club spot.

After winning the spade return at trick two, declarer should have crossed to dummy with a trump and played a club to the jack and ace. Now two more rounds of trump, ending in dummy, would have allowed a low club to be led toward the 10. There are still two entries to dummy (the diamond ace and the deferred spade ruff) to enable declarer to unblock the club 10 and later cash the queen.

A double by you of one heart would be penalties, not responsive. (If you have spades or diamonds, you bid your suits in a sensible order.) So a double would be perfectly sensible, except that you do not really know what to do when West runs to a black suit. Therefore you might well give up on penalties and simply bid one no-trump yourself, which describes your values and stoppers perfectly.


♠ K 5 3
 J 10 8 4
 8 7 2
♣ A 10 2
South West North East
1♣ Dbl. 1

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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Jane AFebruary 19th, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Hi Bobby,

I would have opened the east hand one NT. Now what? Is north good enough to double or not, assuming a double is for penalty. One NT might even make. If north doubles, does south sit? Then what should west do, if anything, if south sits for a double.

Fun game, this bridge!

bobby wolffFebruary 19th, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Hi Jane A,

Your 1NT opening by East would have created a new set of problems for N-S. Possibly North would make a HCP’s double in the balancing position and East might then (possibly prematurely) run to 2 spades. This, in turn may follow with an all pass around the table, unless NS are playing TO doubles in these situations. If they are, then South may make one and North will either bid 3 clubs or 3 hearts (works better if he bids this).

In any event your opening would have warded off the bogey man contract of 4 hearts (bid and made) by our astute declarer.

And what say those who never open 1 strong NT while holding a 5 card major?

You said it first. Fun game, this bridge!

bobby wolffFebruary 19th, 2014 at 7:51 pm

Hi Jane A,

I did it again by confusing N and S. North would make the double and South might then chance 3 hearts with his puny 4 card suit. Sorry for the confusion.