Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession.

Albert Camus

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


Today's deal comes from the recent U.S. National tournament in Atlanta. The guilty party reported the deal in the confessional booth, so we have preserved his anonymity.

In third seat our hero opened two no-trump, perhaps more as a tactical move to keep the opponents from identifying a major-suit fit if they had one, than because he thought it the right valuation of his hand. Naturally his partner raised him to three no-trump after a Stayman inquiry. The defense started by cashing four hearts, and declarer discarded a diamond and a spade from hand and a spade from dummy.

East now shifted to a diamond, and declarer took two high diamonds, finding that East had started with a singleton. With the clubs behaving, declarer had seven minor-suit winners and the spade ace, but no communication between his hand and dummy, so all that West had to do was watch declarer’s discard on the fourth club to defeat the game.

Since West had the spade king and only three clubs, declarer had missed the small extra chance that made the difference between success and failure. At trick five try taking the diamond shift, then cashing the spade ace (the Vienna Coup — an unblocking maneuver to facilitate the timing for a squeeze) and next running the clubs.

This would have had the effect of bringing West under pressure. In the three-card ending, dummy has the doubleton spade queen and a diamond, while declarer has king-queen-third of diamonds, and West cannot keep control of both suits.

When your partner reopens with a takeout double, you might be tempted to pass and convert his double to penalties. You do, after all, have shortage in partner's suit and two potential trump tricks. As a matter of general policy, though, I would suggest it is right to bid two spades. Take out your partner's double if you have a reasonable way to do so — and here you have four spades, so bid the suit.


♠ Q 8 4 2
 9 7 3
 7 2
♣ A 10 4 3
South West North East
1 2♣
Pass Pass 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact