Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 13th, 2014

I love fools' experiments. I am always making them.

Charles Darwin

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


After going down in his slam on this deal from the Dyspeptics Club, South claimed that he had given the contract his best shot. As usual, North took great pleasure in undeceiving him.

In his slam of six hearts, South had received a top-spade lead and had correctly decided that he couldn’t afford to duck the first spade to correct the timing, since an immediate ruff would have sunk the contract. There were only 11 top winners, and in the forlorn hope that “something might turn up,” he reeled off his trumps. The defenders had no real problems with their discards and eventually came to their two tricks.

While South’s idea about winning the first trick was sound enough, there was a perfectly reasonable (and successful) alternative line of play. The fact that spades were 5-1 should have been to declarer’s advantage. If East indeed has the expected spade singleton, all that South needs to do is to find him with at least four clubs.

After drawing trump in two rounds, declarer cashes his two top diamonds and follows with the ace, king, and a club ruff — exposing the position in the suit. He then crosses to one of dummy’s remaining two trumps and leads the last club, on which he discards a spade.

This leaves East on lead with only minor-suit cards, and he is forced to concede a ruff and discard, allowing South’s last spade to go away.

Do not get carried away by the four trumps and singleton. You have no high cards in partner's suits and soft cards in his likely shortages. A raise to two spades is certainly not an underbid, though you can hardly do less, but I would make the same call if the spade eight were the queen.


♠ 8 7 6 3
 K Q 9 5
♣ K 7 6 4
South West North East
Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass 1♠ 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


Peter PengMarch 28th, 2014 at 3:05 pm

hello Mr. Wolff

I have been playing Strong two’s with newer players,
narrowly defined as 19-21 with 2C stronger, unlimited.
I have been successful, and I justify it by the following:
1. Show Strong hand with suit right away and let partner make decision.
2. Does not require reverses and jump shifts by opener which is usually missed by newer player.
3. Newer player has usually trouble showing strong hand by having to use said reverses and jump shifts, especially against interference and preemptive interference.
4. I have missed game with 19-21 HCP, opening 1 of a suit and partner passing with say 4-5 points, doubleton in my suit, never having the chance to show the second suit or to reverse to force.
5. Prevent opponents from jumping in with a pre-empt.
6. Weak 2 is OK when partner has the points, and can probe, but it give the hand away when opps have the points and declare.

The corollary is that the pre-empt has to start at the 3 level. This requires an agreement about solid internal sequences with 6 cards NV and two of the 3 top honors with 7 cards, Vul.

Can you please comment on what am I missing by getting away from weak twos, industry standard?

Peter PengMarch 28th, 2014 at 3:06 pm

thanks, of course, clicked submit before completing question

Bobby WolffMarch 28th, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Hi Peter,

You have not missed much and with it, offered a worthwhile discussion which should precede the choice of system.

Within the Acol system, developed in the UK many years ago and probably, even now, possibly the most played system by capable players around the world, they play what is called Acol 2 bids, a bid just short of a total game force, but nevertheless as you suggest, a very strong bid, forcing for 1 round, and in itself invitational to game when either HCP’s or, lacking that, some kind of trump fit is apparent to the weak responder.

As you say, weak two bids are then given up and although, if played correctly, IMO as a preemptive effort and not so much as a disciplined well defined description, it is pretty much a tossup as to which method is more valuable. It is a question of catering to the type hand which you mention or instead rely on a more frequent type hand which can cause the opponents much consternation by taking much bidding room (all of the 1 level and at least part of the 2) away from them, while immediately enabling one’s partner to add to the preempt if his hand so warrants.

BTW, I should add that a forcing club system will allow both types of hands to survive, with the minus being subjected to immediate preemptive bids over a forcing club which, if dealt can cause the same lack of bidding room for the forcing club bidders.

Finally it is the choice of the partnership to determine which type of system they, as a pair, want to go into battle with.

Your move! For what it is worth I prefer forcing clubs, then weak two bids, and finally Acol two bids.