Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Diseases desperate grown
By desperate appliance are relieved
Or not at all.

William Shakespeare

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


In today's deal South reached the normal game after a Stayman sequence from North had disclosed that South had no major. The contract looks easy to make, but South paid the penalty for playing a careless card. The diamond two was led to the jack, queen and ace (the king might have been more deceptive). As it was, West inferred declarer rated to hold both top diamonds. Next, declarer led a low club to dummy, and a club back to his jack and West's queen.

West now counted South’s points to be the diamond ace and king, together with the club ace-jack. West could see no way to beat the game if his partner had the spade king, so it made sense to play him for both top hearts. The contract might still look hard to defeat, but West worked out that if East had A-K-7-3 of hearts, he could establish four tricks in the suit by force. Accordingly, West shifted to the heart 10, and South had to cover in dummy. East won the trick with his king and was faced with the dilemma of whether to press on in hearts or go back to diamonds. The heart play would be right only on this specific lie of the suit, but could a diamond ever be correct? East decided that declarer’s decision to win the first diamond rather than duck the suit twice made that impossible. So he played back a low heart, and the defenders cashed out the hearts for down one.

This is a classic example of when to make a responsive double, suggesting four cards in both majors. The double is essentially for takeout, and this would apply if East had raised to three diamonds. But note that a double by South of a new suit by East would be penalty, not responsive. Here South will raise either major to three.


♠ A Q 10 5
 J 9 6 4
 J 6 4
♣ K 5
South West North East
Pass 1 Dbl. 2

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 ClimieMay 14th, 2014 at 9:32 am

Hi Bobby,

West did well, although perhaps for the wrong reasons. Declarer can see the lead is 4th highest and only from 4 so has no reason to duck with (say) DAx. Still, he did the right thing regardless and Napoleon’s dictum can apply – I don’t want good generals, I want lucky ones.



Iain ClimieMay 14th, 2014 at 10:49 am

Also, how strong was the 1N rebid? I’m curious about why south didn’t open 1N if playing 15-17.

Mircea GiurgeuMay 14th, 2014 at 11:19 am

North was lucky to find his partner with an absolute maximum for his 1NT rebid but I guess that’s not the point here.

Iain ClimieMay 14th, 2014 at 11:52 am

Hi Mirceau,

I don’t know if you’ve seen Jim2’s lovely TOCM (theory of card migration) yet but, if not, the 1N rebid would be 15-17 and south would have xxx AKx Ax AJ109x when the H10 switch is a disaster. He is a very entertaining guy and a kindred spirit to Victor Mollo’s luckless Karapet from “Bridge in the Menagerie”.


Iain ClimieMay 14th, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Sorry Mircea …

jim2May 14th, 2014 at 12:42 pm

TOCM ™ indeed!


On this hand, if I had passed the JC at Trick #2, then West’s 10H and QC would have swapped places with East’s treys.

bobby wolffMay 14th, 2014 at 1:46 pm

To All,

As this column’s quote might imply and from no less than the Bard.. That is the story of, that is the glory of, bridge.

Many bridge systems, including probably the most popular one world wide, Acol, play weak NT 12-14 so when 1NT is merely rebid, it shows what others play as a strong NT 15-17.

Others play 16-18 strong NT openings, although South’s hand, with the strong club intermediates plus a 5 card suit, should definitely be ungraded to include this one.

Still more is that a great and knowledgeable declarer, holding only Iain’s Ax in diamonds would make it seem at the table that whatever he had or didn’t have in diamonds was the opposite of reality making the psychological part of the game IMO, at least twice as important as others seem to think it is.

Add to those truths the lead of the diamond 2 for those opponents playing 4th best and the lesser percentage play of passing the club jack instead of finessing right side up becomes more attractive for the declarer.

Of course for Jim2 and his TOCM TM he is forever condemned as the poster boy for a terminal bridge disease to which even Shakespeare must have referred, perhaps 400+ years ago, which to my way of thinking rivaled the Bubonic Plague in horror, especially to a bridge lover.

And to our resident victim, trays should be picked up and moved, but treys should remain where they were dealt.

jim2May 14th, 2014 at 2:35 pm

“… treys should remain where they were dealt.”

Hear! Hear!

Maybe they will listen to you! For sure, they never have to me!!


bobby wolffMay 14th, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Hi Jim2,

First, we must understand the nature of the disease. It is even worse than first thought since almost all declarer play is, for success, usually dependent on at least some normality, except those few hands such as, s. A, h. A d. A, c. AKQJ1098765, but even then, many years ago and in one of the highest stakes games imaginable and while playing in Persia the holder of this hand fooled around early in the bidding, but his deception eventually worked and he became doubled in 7 NT to which he redoubled.

When counting up the seven digit amount of money he was about to win on this hand, all of a sudden his LHO led a green card and when everyone discarded, his partner exclaimed dejectively. “No graphalites partner”?

Welcome to Persia, and it did become somewhat unseemly but no doubt, this experience may comfort you in not feeling so badly about your own unique affliction.