Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Poor Eliza. How simply frightful! How humiliating! How delightful!

Alan Lerner

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

*Pick a slam


What a difference a day makes. In the semifinals of the NEC tournament we had seen Sabine Auken and Roy Welland unable to put a foot wrong; on the next day the boot was on the other foot.

Today’s deal was just one instance of that. Their opponents even managed to locate the correct eight-card fit on what appeared to be a straight toss-up as to whether game or slam might be better — not to mention in which suit one should come to rest.

In the other room, where Rees Milner and Hemant Lall had somewhat pessimistically decided to come to rest in four hearts, they had hopes of gain when all the key suits split so badly.

However, Sjoert Brink and Mikhail Krasnosselski avoided the first hurdle when they landed in six spades, not six hearts, and overcame the second hurdle on opening lead. Either minor-suit lead takes the entry out of dummy prematurely, but you can hardly blame Sabine Auken for leading her singleton heart. Declarer won, tested trumps, then tested hearts, finding the doubly bad news. Then he went to the club ace, played the heart ace, ruffed out the hearts, cashed the last top trump from hand, then ruffed a club to dummy.

East could overruff, but then was endplayed; he had to lead diamonds back into dummy’s tenace. So the swing was 13 IMPs to Russia instead of the same number the other way.

Your partner cannot hold spades, or he would have bid the suit at his first turn. This sequence (sometimes referred to as "the impossible spade bid" should suggest a good raise to three hearts, and your aces and 6-4 pattern more than make up for your weak trump spots. Jump to four hearts now.


♠ 9 6 5 3
 A 8 7 6 5 3
 A J
♣ A
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


Iain ClimieApril 30th, 2014 at 9:52 am

Hi Bobby,

Poor Sabine, a classic case of Kipling’s two imposters or maybe a view from an old friend at university. When things went well, bridge was a game of skill but the rest of the time luck was clearly the dominant factor. I also wonder if opening 4C rather than a wimpy 3 helped give the opponents momentum to reach the slam.



bobby wolffApril 30th, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Hi Iain,

Your comment should be an award winner in describing bridge and, for that matter, life itself, where as Rudyard emphasized, we need to treat good and bad alike if we want to be men or, for that matter women, if we value bridge highly.

Bridge is definitely a game of skill, but my view is that since North doubled 4 clubs he would certainly double 3 clubs and opposite that powerful partnership hand, South, would very likely drive to slam, but perhaps the timing of the hand would be, but probably not, different, leading to North being declarer, which would undoubtedly cause the killing club lead.

Because of my adopted home town, Las Vegas, I, probably more than most, only have to look upon the various magnificent hotels and casinos dotting the skyline to realize that the Law of Averages is alive and well and Sabine & Roy have had a ton of success, so they are now due some tough luck, but only one hand from one tournament is not nearly enough to judge that.

As always, thanks for your on point comment.

Peter PengApril 30th, 2014 at 6:36 pm

hi Mr. Wolff

Sorry for the apparently basic stuff, but
this came from a European champion play.

Opposite a 1D opener, is the hand


worth a 1H bid ?

Thanks for your opinion.

bobby wolffApril 30th, 2014 at 10:05 pm

Hi Peter,

50% either way between pass and 1 heart, with 1NT an OK alternative, although not recommended by me.

My usual tactic is to give the pluses and minuses of each bid, but here there are just too many of both to list.

Good luck which is exactly what anyone would need to get this one right.

Herreman BobMay 10th, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Your 2S bid doesn’t add a lot to sequence.
We prefer to use it as showing a bid minor 2suiter….
What do you think of that ?