Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 4th, 2014

Yet I doubt not through the ages one increasing purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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


Today's deal from the Dyspeptics Club saw South declaring a slam contract. All the other players allege that he must be a practitioner of the black arts in order to attract the high cards to himself, but as East pointed out, he does so little with them that they allow him to play in their game.

On this occasion North did his best to get his side to a slam other than no-trump —even on a trump lead, six hearts might have been the best spot. But when South opted for no-trump, North acceded to his suggestion.

After West’s spade lead, South won in hand and played a club to the queen and king, then won the return and hoped that the club 10 would fall. When it did not, he could do little but give up a club and take 11 tricks.

South was about to launch into his usual apology — the cards had lain unfavorably and there was nothing that he could do about it — when North forestalled him by remarking that he had overlooked the best line for the slam. Can you see what he meant?

Finessing the club queen (planning to follow up with clubs from the top) can pick up either king-third or 10-third of clubs but not both — unless you always guess perfectly. Better is to lead a club to the nine immediately, which succeeds when East has either three or four clubs to the 10 and works today.

The combination of the double and no-trump bid shows a hand stronger than an overcall of one no-trump, say 18-20 high cards. Your hand suggests inviting game, and a simple bid of two no-trump feels about right. You can rely on partner to put spades back into the picture if he accepts your try.


♠ 10 9 8 6 3
 9 8
 K 10 3
♣ K 7 3
South West North East
Pass 1♣ Dbl. Pass
1♠ Pass 1 NT 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


MirceaJuly 18th, 2014 at 10:51 am

Is there a rational way of reaching 6H? I’m thinking that a 3H bid by South would promise 4 cards there, for his 1NT initial rebid could conceal them.

On the BWTA, do you need a prior discussion with partner about the meaning of a 2C cuebid on an auction such as this? It should be logical that 2C shows 5 cards in spades. Partner has denied 4 cards in the suit but may have 3. Of course you would need the adequate strenght to make this bid.

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 18th, 2014 at 11:41 am

Hi Mircea,

First, this is Bobby proposing the following while holed up in a hotel in my home town of Las Vegas, waiting for the first day of possibly my last full bridge Nationals. Yes, that makes me a wolf in Kay’s clothing, since I am using her computer and sadly do not have the intelligence to know how to deal with it and since it is 4:12AM in the morning, I will not risk her wrath by waking her.

Second, I am very pleased with what I consider your forward and sophisticated thinking and will gladly comment on it. Yes, 6 hearts is probably a better slam contract than 6 NT since (because of the very strong heart holdings between the NS hands) an extra trick can be established by ruffing diamond(s) in the short trump hand, freeing us of risking defeat with the specific location of the lowly 10 of clubs by the defense. However, it is very difficult, during the bidding (almost impossible) to foresee (and then act) on this extra chance, since although North has a very strong enticing heart holding to consider, the exact distribution of both NS hands can only be a guess with the only sure thing being that there are only a maximum of 7 hearts held. Sometimes it turns out better for NT when a card like the 9 of clubs with South turns out to be the 10. Mircea, please do not ever be discouraged that bidding is not as effective for partners, as would be sitting on the same bench, gazing at each others hand. Remember it is as fair for one as it is for the other, unless of course, either cards become transparent, or dirty filthy cheating enters the room.

Also regarding your probing question concerning the BWTA, your partnership should play a rebid of 2 clubs (the opponent’s suit) as a forward going artificial attempt to move higher (perhaps eventually to game) and be just as you say it is, usually a 5 card primary suit (spades) and enough strength to be in the game range (or, at least close).

Indeed, your thinking appears to be right on, and to quote someone else, “A potential brilliant bridge mind is a terrible thing to waste” and I sincerely wish that you stay with it and “conquer the beast”.

Finally, yes there would be a good and thus arguable reason for playing a suit (particularly clubs) as a natural get out bid aiming for a better part score contract. However, when using a code language (bridge bidding) a partnership cannot have it both ways and thus must make a choice and I think we agree with each other that 2 clubs in this case should mean what you are suggesting.

Thanks for your input, which is intended to upgrade your status with deserving earned respect.

jim2July 18th, 2014 at 11:45 am

How many North declarers at 6H, would play the 9C from the board on an opening club lead?

Judy Kay-WolffJuly 18th, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Hi Jim2,

First, please read the above for identification.

Second, it will be difficult to do the math, although if it is determined by a numeracy expert that clubs offer a better opportunity than diamonds for success while in a 6H contract then IMO the 9 is certainly the right play. And since the alternative of playing the ace instead leaves us poorly placed in diamonds because of the likely tap of our 4 card holding available (after losing a diamond trick) it seems that the opening club lead has forced our hand.

And just when I was becoming confident that the diamond route was the best road to success while playing 6H. Shame on you, though you have your TOCM tm, I have my sleep deprivation and I will likely not get back to sleep until the sun has risen successfully, which in my case I am hoping for a late appearance of it, but the bridge percentage is decidedly against my desire.