Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 10th, 2014

Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future.

Charles F. Kettering

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


Imagine you reach the small slam in spades and receive the lead of the trump 10. To bring home 12 tricks, you will need to set up hearts, but the entries to dummy are scarce. After you win the spade ace and unblock the heart king; what next? It might look natural to ruff a diamond to dummy and ruff a heart to hand. But if hearts do not break, you are out of trump and doomed to go down.

The best plan now is somewhat counterintuitive. Since you must rely on trumps to be 3-2 and hearts no worse than 4-2, you should next play the club queen out of your hand.

If West wins the king and plays a trump — as good as anything — you win in dummy with the spade jack, ruff a heart low in hand, cross to dummy with the club jack, and ruff a heart with the spade king. Then you can cash the diamond ace and ruff a diamond to draw the last trump, with dummy high.

If West ducks the club queen, you change tack altogether. You go to dummy with a trump, then ruff a heart with the spade king. Now you can cross to dummy and draw the last trump by leading the spade four to the jack. Next you play the heart ace and another heart. You concede one heart trick, but the last trump in dummy is the entry back to all the good hearts.

I take a relatively relaxed view about the suit quality required for a weak-two when nonvulnerable, though if vulnerable I like to have two of the top three honors. Having said that, ace-sixth is the worst possible holding for a weak-two (you have no tricks facing shortage but lots of defense). Meanwhile, your good spade suit is another red flag against pre-empting. Pass at any vulnerability.


♠ Q J 7 6
 A 8 6 5 4 2
♣ J 6
South West North East

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


Mircea Giurgeu, Kitchener ONMay 24th, 2014 at 11:55 am

What is the correct bid with the BWTA hand in 3rd seat? 1H or 2H? I’m leaning towards 1H.

Mircea GiurgeuMay 24th, 2014 at 12:01 pm

One more question, what is the best method / convention to be used for weak-2 openings? I’ve seen at least a few around. Me and my partner are currently employing Ogust but we are not very happy with it.

bobby wolffMay 24th, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Hi Mircea,

I would rate the BWTA choices in the 3rd seat differently:

3H (NV only)=60
Pass=40 but 70 when vulnerable

My reasons have primarily to do with maintaining the integrity of an opening 1 bid, in case my LHO bids a large amount of some suit (or NT) and/or the bidding just gets competitive and partner has been led to believe that it is our hand (by my opening one bid).

Good bridge partnerships need to be nurtured with discipline since, at least to me, I want partner to believe and trust my choices, resulting in, to not preempt (or even possibly to pass when NV) is a mighty step in obfuscation. Yes, 1 heart could easily work, but, at least I think, the price for doing it is just too high.

The judgment in choosing conventions should always fit the personality of the partnership doing the choosing. My opinion is that Ogust is as good as any, since it gets across as well as one can, generally what value and type of hand (good or bad suit) the WTBer possesses.

I prefer new suits by the responder to be NF (except for 3H over 2S or 3S over 2H) which should cater to very good two suiters (6-5 or at least a mammoth 5-5) but others (most) play new suits as at least a one round force.

McCabe is also useful in getting partner (the wtber, off to the right opening lead in competition which starts out with an immediate TO double made by one’s RHO.

Good luck and thanks for writing.

Iain ClimieMay 24th, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Hi Bobby, Mircea,

Although I now play Ogust, I still prefer the approach I played years ago. After 2H/2S – 2N, opener rebids 3H/3S with a minimum, 3NT with a solid suit (OK AKQxxx may count 4H/4S with a maximum and 3 or 3H a minor (or 3H after opening 2S) with a feature and a medium strength hand, acting like a long suit trial bid although clearly you could bid a shortage instead. I found it helped judge how well the hands fitted, and you could use 2H-2S as the enquiry instead, when opener can show a spade feature with 2N. 2H – 2N would then show spades, and we treated a change of suit as forcing.

I found this worked well if you fancy trying it.

bobby wolffMay 24th, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Hi Iain,

Only off the top of my head, your old way, years ago seems reasonable. The only flaw spotted is if the partner of the WTB has a void (or low singleton) in partner’s suit, but a great hand outside, 2NT is not the right beginning, since the opener has the right to jump right to 4 of his major.

However, it is likely that the practicality of selecting method has much to do with what hand comes up opposite the WTBer.

Thanks for taking the trouble to explain it to Mircea, me and the rest of your followers.

Mircea Giurgeu, Kitchener ONMay 25th, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Thank you both Iain and Bobby for taking the time to share your experience/thoughts. I’ve seen Iain’s method in use by experts, I’ll try to convince my partner to give it a try.