Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Many things happen between the cup and the lip.

Robert Burton

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



Against six spades West led the heart 10 instead of a fatal trump, which would have removed a crucial entry to dummy. Declarer, Dick Cummings, took the heart ace, ruffed a heart, crossed back to dummy with a trump to the 10, ruffed the heart queen, and then drew trump with the ace and king. Next he led a diamond and took East's queen with the king.

Judging that the queen was a singleton, he next played the diamond 10 from his hand, giving up on possible overtricks to try to ensure his slam.

If West had taken the jack, declarer would have had 12 tricks. So West ducked, and Dick now had to judge who had the club king. He reasoned that West would have been almost certain to take the diamond jack if he did not hold the club king — he would have risked conceding an overtrick if South had that card. (Mind you, would declarer have ducked a diamond in that instance?) In any event, Cummings accurately led the club five to dummy’s ace and now reducing to a three-card ending by cashing North’s last trump.

West, who had already come down to one heart, the doubleton diamond jack, and the club king, had to throw the club king. Had he pitched his heart, he would have been endplayed with that card to lead diamonds into the tenace. But that let Cummings cash his two minor-suit winners to bring home the slam.

Your partner's second double shows extra values and is not penalty. (You cannot convert a takeout double into a penalty double at your next turn no matter how much you want to.) With real extras you should cue-bid three diamonds, hoping to get heart support from your partner. A sensible alternative is a jump to three hearts.


♠ 5 4 2
 K J 8 5 4
♣ J 9 7 6
South West North East
Pass 1 Dbl. Pass
1 2 Dbl. 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


Michael BeyroutiMay 10th, 2014 at 11:51 am

Dear Mr Wolff,
I can’t quite bring myself to see “real extras” in the BWTA hand. The most I would have done is bid 2H… Isn’t the diamond queen worthless? Thanks for your thoughts.
regards, Michael.
P.S. Declarer played the featured AOB hand in a very elegant way!

Patrick CheuMay 10th, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Hi Bobby,Often hear ‘show up squeeze’ mentioned in vu-graph,West’s predicament is precisely that,as he held the king of clubs..and on the play of the last trump..all is reviewed!Re-BWTA,South has five honour points,and one point for 5th heart,and 3(2)for singleton=8/9,therefore 3H is justifiable given a second dbl by pard.Does 3H show five hearts? If not then 3D to garner more info maybe.Regards~Patrick.

Bobby WolffMay 10th, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Hi Michael,

Yes, the late and great Dick Cummings from Australia, Tim Seres’ favorite partner, did play the featured hand elegantly.

Concerning the BWTA bidding problem, a principle to follow is that the value of a bridge hand constantly changes in worth, and once a minimum bid is made (this time only a 1 heart bid in response to partner’s TO double), but then partner shows considerable extras by his 2nd double (which often is only 3 card support, but perhaps 18+ HCP’s) it is then time to respond with a positive jump of 3 hearts (my real choice) in order to show a decent 5 card suit and, not the value of the queen of diamonds (although sometimes even that helps) but its value as a singleton. Three hearts is NF, and partner, if he has stretched can now pass, but likely he will carry on to game in hearts but then he may instead venture 3NT where I’ll be equally satisfied since my queen of diamonds will now take on added value and chances are that he will also have good 3 card heart support along with. If he, instead would now venture 3 spades over my 3 hearts (showing at least 5 good spades e.g. s. AKQxx, h. Axx, d. Axx, c. xx) I’ll raise him to 4 and expect to make it.

Thanks for your topical comment.

Bobby WolffMay 10th, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Hi Patrick,

Yes you nailed the major point with the elegant declarer play by Dick Cummings, card reading. At least to me, the mental visualization of where the important missing cards (in this case the king of clubs) is located is the major distinguishing quality among the very top players and that is determined by accurately examining the defense chosen by the individual defenders.

Also I agree to both of your comments regarding the BWTA as to “showing extras” and the jump in hearts to show a decent 5 card suit as opposed to a 3 diamond cue bid to show 8-9 HCP’s but only a 4 card heart suit.

At a certain very experienced point in your future bridge ascent, I predict you will change your method of counting points to just “feel” rather than adding up your estimated values. Do not worry about what happens when you do, except for the fact that when that occurs, it will be ‘seemless.’