Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, February 20th, 2014

If you're young and talented, it's like you have wings.

Haruki Murakami

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


The International Bridge Press Association presented the 2011 Richard Freeman Junior Award to Cedric Lorenzini and Christophe Gosset of France for this sparkling defense. It was played during the 5th World University Bridge Championships, which were held in the National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung.

After North transferred to hearts, he offered a choice of games with his jump to three no-trump. South was happy to play no-trump with his doubleton heart.

West, Gosset, led the spade four and declarer played the 10 from dummy. East, Lorenzini, elected not to cover with his queen. He had noted the danger of dummy’s heart suit, and wished to deny declarer a possible later entry to dummy in spades. He assumed from the bidding that South held only a doubleton heart. Declarer next continued with a low heart to his jack in hand, which West ducked in tempo. South naturally continued by cashing dummy’s heart ace and king, doubtless being surprised when East showed out on the third round. When diamonds failed to break 3-3, declarer could garner no more than eight tricks.

I noticed that another of Lorenzini’s hands made the final selection for this award. That level of expertise by French juniors bodes well for the future of bridge in France. The French took two Gold Medals at the 2011 World Championships — the women in the Venice Cup and the seniors in the D’Orsi Bowl. Perhaps an influx of juniors will help their Open Team — which in recent years is not what it once was.

Do not have any illusions about the nature of the redouble. If your partner were happy to play hearts, he would pass and let you get on with it. The redouble is for rescue, with a two- or three-suited hand short in hearts. You do not have to work out the details; simply bid the lowest suit you can stand to play in. For the time being, this is spades, but the auction may well not be over.


♠ J 10 7
 A K 10 8 5
 6 3 2
♣ 9 8
South West North East
1 Pass Pass Dbl.
Pass Pass Rdbl. 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


Patrick CheuMarch 6th, 2014 at 9:51 am

Hi Bobby,good morning(here!),after declarer won the JH,and proceed to cash A and KH,do you think this play is influenced by the fact he could see if diamonds are breaking 33,he has 9 tricks?I remember reading The Best of Bridge(The Wohlin collection)by Mollo and Jannersten,the first hand of that book depicts a hand similar to the one here,the finesse (for the Q)works against East now finesse against West,West ducks the play with Qxxx,I agree this is not strictly a finesse on the first round of hearts here.The play thus far may arouse suspicion that every thing has gone swimmingly well for declarer,first spade holding and Jack of Hearts holding!Is it a case of doing something unusual,like taking the second round heart finesse,and be ready for the post mortem,and finding a new pard for the next game if heart finesse fails?How would you have played the hand if JH held?Me wonders..regards~Patrick :o)

Iain ClimieMarch 6th, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Hi Patrick, Bobby,

I suspect I’d have played D to Q at trick 2 then run the HJ. If it held, and east had ducked with Qxx(x) I look like a fool again, but I can duck if west covers. I can’t see east having played small with Qxx here, though, so declarer is surely settling for only 3 heart tricks playing how he did. As ever, 52 cards on view can give me delusions of capability!


jim2March 6th, 2014 at 12:41 pm

I must confess that after the JH held, I would have erroneously assumed that East began with Qxxx of hearts. As for diamonds, I would reason that if they are 3-3 now that they will still be later. The heart duck also provides a strong inference that the clubs are not laid out to easily produce four tricks for the defense.

For those reasons, I think I might have ducked a spade at trick 3. BTW, did East follow with the 3S or the 8S? As declarer, that might make a difference!

On this hand, presumably the defense would now clear spades, and the hand is now cold when the extra chance in clubs pays out. (Test hearts, then diamonds, then throw East in with fourth diamond)

Iain ClimieMarch 6th, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Hi Jim2,

Nicely done, and a good single dummy line too. I just wonder if TOCM and a previously dozy defence will see East win T3 and only now switch to a club even though he / she could have done so previously so the defence take 4C (east holding AJx say) and a spade when the diamonds were 3-3. That C7 suddenly comes to the rescue, though, as there would only be 3C unless West has decided SK9xx is a better lead than (say) CKJ10x. Looks good!


jim2March 6th, 2014 at 1:16 pm

My decision to lead a spade towards the Board at T3 was also influenced by East having tricked me in BOTH majors. That is, I would have assumed West had both missing honors while East held the heart Qxxx.

Thus, I would have been expecting West to win T3 and (with KQ9x(x)) clear spades by leading the other spade honor at T4.

This time it would have all worked out unless (of course!) TOCM ™ re-arranged the cards on me … AGAIN!

bobby wolffMarch 6th, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Hi Patrick,

I agree with your suspicion and thus summation. Once the jack of hearts held, perhaps declarer before he continued hearts, should cash his diamonds and find they are not splitting.

Faced with that realism, the hand now will turn on whether or not East has the sheer guts to duck the queen third of hearts when declarer leads a low heart from dummy. True an alert East will be aware that, while if declarer is holding the jack, he may never (likely then see a heart trick) but it also may look like he, declarer, may be able to afford losing a heart trick and still collect his nine contract making tricks.

The above features what I have long thought, that superior bridge playing now switches and therefore emphasizes mastering psychology rather than excellence in applying percentages and techniques.

Perhaps an inexperienced declarer (particularly a young one) will only understand that if West (his LHO) didn’t win the queen of hearts (when he had the chance) that means he doesn’t have it. If so, this hand will, at the very least, educate a best and soon to be brightest young player that bridge is indeed a marvelous vehicle to learn about the whole body of play, especially on defense, wherein the objective is to set the hand, not take a trick at the wrong time.

This hand required great imagination both from East, not covering the 10 of spades, deciding that his partner was very unlikely to be leading from the AK (a gutsy decision but logical) and keeping declarer from having a critical future entry to the then set up hearts.

Both East’s decision at trick one and West’s decision at trick two needed to be made quickly, (East because of the ethics of the game since if he studied before ducking the spade he would be giving unauthorized information to partner, which could be important since West must then lean over backwards not to take advantage).

Bridge is being taught in primary schools in France. Although that itself does not lead to a necessarily constructive later occupation, but the logic, problem solving, psychology and numeracy features of our wonderful game will apply in so many other worthwhile vocations that, at least to me when thinking about other courses which are taught (nameless by me since I do not profess to be sure which courses that might cover) encompass skills vital in so many other milieus.

In answer to your pointed question about what I would do, I will answer I do not know, but it all depends on the cast of characters present at the table. At least I will ward off my readers thinking of me as a dunce, but perhaps a coward in not playing to the 10 of hearts, especially after I cash my diamonds first.

bobby wolffMarch 6th, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Hi Iain and Jim2,

Between both of you, intelligent other nuances are presented which need to be studied and then assessed.

Added to the main thrust of the hand. the spade duck at trick one and the elegant heart duck at trick two, we have the prime features of an overall super hand to consider.

Between the three of you (of course, including Patrick) every aspiring bridge player would do well to consider what has been said and then arrive at how he (she) would proceed. It is just such hands which entice talented students to grow to love this game we all play.

Thanks to all of you and those who have not yet read it, but will, to learn how to think while reading and then prepare oneself to how one needs to think (sometimes squirm but not to be noticed) under pressure while playing and defending it.

bobby wolffMarch 6th, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, after due consideration (I took my own advice) your low spade at trick 3 has much to recommend it, but, of course it must be done before the diamonds are cashed, since there could easily be 3 club tricks (but not 4) available to the defense in addition to the diamond now established by leading out the three tops and, of course, the ducked spade.

However, your line of play, especially against very cunning defenders, becomes the anti-hero to this award winning defense.

jim2March 6th, 2014 at 4:59 pm

It’s not “the anti-hero” — it’s just another column!


As for West’s duck of the JH, it reminded me of the Grosvenor Gambit …

… in that declarer would never realistically be able to take advantage of the unexpected opportunity.

David WarheitMarch 7th, 2014 at 4:04 am

As N, I would transfer to H, as he did, and then bid 4H for the following reasons: a) if S has 3 or more H, surely this is the right place to be, b) if S only has 2H, unless specifically QJ, how are we going to take 9 tricks in NT, since I have no entry for the H suit? Do you agree? Note that S might very well make 4H (1S, 5H, 3D & 1C).

Bobby WolffMarch 7th, 2014 at 5:00 am

Hi David,

While I certainly agree to NS probably making 4 hearts, I see no reason to not just transfer to hearts, and then rebid 2NT, offering partner 4 choices, Pass, 3 hearts, 3NT, or 4 hearts. While I am not denying that on some hands we will guess wrong between NT and hearts and also the number of tricks to be made. On this hand I suspect most South’s will opt for 3NT.

3NT always has one less trick to make for game, but partner (South) should be the one to choose, since I have what I am supposed to have 8+ (2 tens), a balanced hand and a 5 card heart suit.

With a scattered 8 points, no 5 card suit and some quacks (queens and jacks) I would just pass 1NT and expect to make it.

I suspect that I think the good 5 card heart suit with North offers more flexibility than you allow and when partner will have only 2 hearts he still has good chances for multiple heart tricks, especially since the J10 of spades could (on a sunny day) provide an entry.

All of the above is guesswork, but the continual pressure of forcing the opponents to defend games rather than part scores is, at least to me, a winning strategy.