Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings at a single bound.

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

East North
Neither ♠ 4 3
 A Q 7 5 3
 10 7 4 3
♣ A 4
West East
♠ K Q J 8 5 2
 K 8 6 4
 Q 2
♣ 6
♠ —
 J 9 2
 A K J 9 8 6 5
♣ 8 5 2
♠ A 10 9 7 6
♣ K Q J 10 9 7 3
South West North East
4♣ 4♠ 5♣ All pass


Pablo Lambardi had a great declarer-play problem from the 2013 Gold Coast Swiss Teams in Australia.

Five clubs might look easy to make — any self-respecting West would lead the spade king and give you an easy task. But declarer was faced with the lead of the diamond queen, overtaken by East and ruffed. Lambardi knew spades rated to be 6-0. Since he had four spades to dispose of and no easy place to put them, he took the heart finesse, then cashed the heart ace — one spade down, three to go!

He next played a spade from dummy; East defended strongly by ruffing and returning a trump. Lambardi now had a choice as to how to dispose of one of his two remaining losing spades. If East had started with a doubleton club, the play would be easy. South could win the club ace, then lead a spade to the ace and ruff a spade. But if East had three clubs, he would discard when the second spade was led, then would overruff dummy. Lambardi decided correctly that East rated to be 0-3-7-3. How should he play now?

The answer is simple — when you think of it! Lambardi won the club shift in hand and led a low spade. If West won the trick, he could not prevent declarer from ruffing his remaining spade with the club ace. If East ruffed in, he would have no trump left to lead, so declarer could take his ruff in peace and comfort.

Your partner has shown game-forcing values and a spade suit. While your diamond stopper could be better, a simple call of two no-trump is economical, allowing partner to show delayed heart support or introduce a second suit. You can raise spades at your next turn if convenient.


♠ 4 3
 A Q 7 5 3
 10 7 4 3
♣ A 4
South West North East
1 Dbl. Pass
2 Pass 2♠ 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


Shantanu RastogiMarch 13th, 2014 at 9:30 am

Dear Mr Wolff

In BWTA what would a call of 3 hearts show instead of 2 NT ? I’m a bit reluctant to bid 2 NT with 10 top though if partner produces J doubleton diamond having 5224 distribution 3 NT may make as East is almost entryless where as Major contract may fail.

best regards

Shantanu Rastogi

Patrick cheuMarch 13th, 2014 at 10:06 am

Hi Bobby,Normally leading from KQJxxx is unlikely to cost,here it does,would you have led QD or KS at the table given this auction?The four spade bid seems reasonable,here it gave declarer the blueprint in the play of the hand.Success or failure in many hands seem to depend on the auction,whether or not to overcall,pre-empt or show a two suiter at the right time.Maybe that saying..’Two ears and one mouth’ has some relevance in bridge bidding?Regards~Patrick :0)

bobby wolffMarch 13th, 2014 at 11:24 am

Hi Shantanu,

Good morning (my time) and you picked a good, though controversial, subject to discuss.

One of the more important characteristics in moving up the ladder in bridge ability to more success, is good, sound bidding bridge judgment.

Oft times, bidding judgment requires offering close choices to partner, when there are no outstanding clear cut choices available.

For example if partner held s. AKQJ10, h. Kx, d. Jx or Qx, c. Kxxx I think it proper to double first since he has more than a mere 1 spade overcall and first doubling and then bidding 2 spades (over 2 hearts) seems the right course, both as to hand value and, of course, to announce very strong spades. Then when and if partner sees fit to rebid 2NT after first showing a pretty good hand (10-11) points and a reasonable heart suit (but not necessarily even 5 long nor of course GF) he then should temper his enthusiasm after partner’s 2 spade advance, and throw in the mix the possibility of a 3NT contract. With the above hand the doubler, not having a 6th spade nor a 3rd heart, but holding a minor honor in the opponent’s suit should then be happy to choose 3NT.

If however, the doubler held s. AKQJ10, h. KJx, d. xx, c. Kxx he should then, over 2NT, rebid 3 hearts to show decent support (fewer than 4) but still a live possibility for a heart game.

The above example, at least to me, is an example of a cooperative bidding sequence which between both of the partner’s will then arrive at the correct final contract in both instances. No doubt, bridge is a partnership game and that is why both partners must assume the responsibility of upholding his end in describing his hand within the confines of bridge language (bidding) and let the chips fall where they may.

You may ask, “what are the requirements and do’s and don’ts of such a task”.

1. Both partners hand description is entirely related to his (her) full body of bids and only in relation to the bidding up to the point of where it stands at that moment.

2. Being unilateral in nature, e.g making too many decisions only based on your own hand, not together with what your partner is trying to show, is always to be frowned on and WILL NOT WORK IN THE LONG RUN, not necessarily because any one auction works and another doesn’t, but rather because both partners have to trust the other one for making a reasonable decision with each bid he makes.

3. Only together can a partnership succeed, particularly at a very high level where the competition forces a competing partnership to be at their best, otherwise the law of averages (always ever present in almost every competitive endeavor) will cast a deep frown on your efforts, which in turn will keep that partnership from achieving their goal.

Bridge can be challenging, but also fun, in spite of many bad moments in almost every top partnership which has emerged. Learning how to cope, plus the discussion of how to do it better the next time is the answer, not immediate disdain or impatience, which only adds to the problem and never justifies a solution.

Sorry for the rant, but you touched a sensitive subject in the development of a potentially up and coming partnership who become determined to rise together in stature.

Good luck, every bridge player needs his share, and except for JIm2’s TOCM tm, figures to get, over the course of time, exactly his due, but no more.

bobby wolffMarch 13th, 2014 at 11:58 am

Hi Patrick,

Your intelligent summation of bridge in the raw is very accurate, but unusually in my case, since I am basically deaf, but bidding boxes save me and I use my eyes of which I, like ears, have two but fortunately both for me and for my listeners have only one mouth or at least only one computer which enables my typing.

Perhaps on this specific bidding a trump lead is called for since both the spade king and/or the diamond Q immediately go after tricks, but the opponent’s bidding has somewhat indicated that perhaps dummy will show up with a ruffing trick which may be able to be circumvented by a highly imaginative trump lead. (easy for me to say after seeing all 52 cards and in real life, sometimes pulverizes Qxx in your partner’s hand).

Your subject is a highly fancied one in my overall view of what happens when two very good partnerships collide since I, like your inferences, agree that too often the opponent’s knowledge of the bidding and the proper evidence gleaned from it, sometimes results in double dummy defense (from the get-go) and leaves their opponents talking to themselves about their poor luck in playing against that pair on this hand, but in truth the tell tale pair has given the show away with the bridge war being like World Wars in applying the oft heard comment of “Loose lips sink ships” a phrase commonly used in the Navy during WWII.

However, most of the time, one side has to exchange honest information in order to get leads from partners, not to mention to both get to the right contract themselves, or, at times enable pushing the opponents beyond their capacity in competitive bidding.

There are no hard and fast rules which work anywhere near even most of the time, but the caveat, “When one partner knows (or thinks he does) what the right contract is going to be, just bid it and perhaps the lack of information to the zeroed in opponents will prevent the contract being torpedoed by brilliant defense made possible by the bidding”.

However, nothing will detract from the overall sensational uniqueness of our great game, so play on and let the devil (and the opponents, sometimes one and the same) try and derail you, but steel oneself to be resilient.