Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

In skating over thin ice, our safety is in our speed.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

South North
Neither ♠ A J 3
 10 8 6 5
 Q 9 7 5
♣ 10 3
West East
♠ K 9 8 5 2
 Q J 2
 8 3 2
♣ K J
♠ 7 6 4
 K J 10 6
♣ Q 9 7 6 4
♠ Q 10
 A K 7 4 3
 A 4
♣ A 8 5 2
South West North East
1 1♠ 2 Pass
3♣ Pass 4 All pass


After North makes a simple raise to two hearts, South would pass with a minimum hand or raise to three hearts obstructively. His three-club call suggests extra shape or high cards looking for help in clubs. North has the good combination of a doubleton club and four trumps, enough to raise to game.

West leads a low spade, and after you decide to play low from dummy, with which card should you win? The queen is best, as later you will want to use the 10 for afinesse, so you can cash the spade ace for a diamond discard.

Next you can afford to cash one top trump, but not both, as you would like to ruff two clubs in dummy, but must give up a club to do so. If two rounds of trump are played, the defenders can surely arrange for the hand with three trumps to win their side’s club trick and return a trump. Then the two club ruffs are reduced to one.

The best way forward at trick three is a low club. Declarer can now make 11 tricks, whatever the return. After taking the trump ace, you lead the spade 10 to the jack; then cash the spade ace for a diamond discard. Now take the club ace and ruff a club. Next lead a diamond to the now bare ace for another club ruff. All that the defense can muster is one more trump trick.

Unlike the sequence in today's featured deal, partner's delayed support of hearts strongly suggests only two or three hearts in a very minimum raise. If that is so, you should advance with caution. Here a bid of two no-trump conveys your values nicely and does not lock you into playing hearts. You have already shown your long suits; there is no need to repeat yourself.


♠ Q 10
 A K 7 4 3
 A 4
♣ A 8 5 2
South West North East
1 Pass 1 NT 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


jim2April 15th, 2014 at 1:24 pm

On BWTA, I considered passing two hearts, until I thought about how good a dummy the South hand is in the positional sense.

That is, if North’s modest array included bits like king-9-spot on spades and/or queen-third of diamonds, then even three small hearts would lead to nine tricks with decent splits. So, I eventually “bid” two notrump, as well. I would hope that pard would consider those aspects as the bidding sequence basically promises a 2-5-2-4 pattern with help in the short suits.

bobby wolffApril 15th, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Hi Jim2,

Thanks for the comprehensive analysis of why you decided, like what was suggested, to rebid 2NT with the BWTA question.

The only caveat I can add is that, if any possible fault is to be found, it would be a bit of too much thinking before acting, but rather I would suggest that what you said at the end of your bid promising a likely 2-5-2-4 (perhaps 2 (1 or 3)-5-2 (3 or 1)-4 with a possible singleton honor where I mention the possibility of one. Even K, AKxxx, Kx, KJxxx might qualify rather than the alternative of 3 clubs which would (should) be chosen with x, AKxxx, Kx, Kxxxx (with a orobable pass of 2 hearts at matchpoints for the greater trick score when playing a major suit and getting reasonable breaks.

All I am alluding to, is (since there are endless numbers of possible hands) do not over think before allowing the general strength of your hand together with your outside values in your short suits to do the influencing and, of course, then deciding on choosing a game bid rather than pass with any kind of close choice.

It saves energy, time and, at least to me, a lifetime winning strategy.

In a long IMP match, bidding games against many opponents saps their energy, even though good defense would likely defeat the aggressive contract, they need to find that defense as against not as much intensity being involved in defending a part score.

Consistent intelligent thinking and problem solving on defense (with sometimes many nuances) wears even good players out, particularly ones without much experience.