Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 1st, 2014

You will send a foreign Minister, whoever he may be, naked into the conference chamber.

Aneurin Bevin

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


It was a sad loss to the world of bridge when Giorgio Belladonna died nearly 20 years ago. As a part of the legendary Italian Blue Team, he had 13 World Teams wins and three Olympiad victories to his credit. Belladonna is best remembered for deals like today’s – which has been referred to as the “Striptease Coup”.

Playing South, Belladonna ended in five clubs, against which West led the spade king. Now it looks as though declarer was facing three losers. South won in hand, cashed the diamond queen, and crossed to the heart 10 with the intention of discarding his losing spade on a top diamond. East ruffed with his club two, and South overruffed. Next he tried the hearts, again hoping to discard dummy’s losing spade. No joy, as the third round of hearts was ruffed by West with the club eight and overruffed on the table.

So far so bad; and when dummy’s last top diamond, the king, was led, ruffed low and overruffed, declarer still had a losing spade in each hand. But the good news was that the defenders had now used up all of their small trumps. The consequence was that one of declarer’s trump losers had evaporated, and now the diamond ace and king fell on the same trick — contract made. At the other table the contract was four hearts. This failed after a spade lead, when declarer tried to establish his clubs and lost trump control.

This is a forcing auction, and your choice appears to be to raise hearts or repeat diamonds. I'd expect your hand to be somewhat useful to your partner in hearts (an ace-king cannot be wholly bad news) and so I'd settle for the simple raise rather than the rebid. If there is a game, partner will be well-placed to work out which.


♠ 10 2
 10 7
 A K 7 6 5 4
♣ 9 7 6
South West North East
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


David WarheitAugust 15th, 2014 at 9:10 am

You of course meant to say that the club ace and king fell on the same trick, not the diamond ace and king.

Iain ClimieAugust 15th, 2014 at 9:24 am

Hi Bobby,

The quote is historically interesting as it was Nye Bevin’s comment to those members of his own political party in favour of unilateral nuclear disarmament. I love the hand, though – proof that 2 into 1 (in this case trump winners) can be made to go with amusing effect, although not for the defence.



Iain ClimieAugust 15th, 2014 at 9:37 am

Also, on the subject of striptease, didn’t Terence Reese pull off a naked lady coup? The bet was struck that his concentration wouldn’t be disturbed by her walking round the table. Supposedly he never noticed.

MirceaAugust 15th, 2014 at 9:40 am

Hi Bobby,

Nice hand in the column, thanks for sharing. Do you have any personal stories involving Belladona?

On the BWTA hand, assuming the partnership has agreed to play Ogust or some other similar convention, is it not better to play new suit by responder as non-forcing?

Peter PengAugust 15th, 2014 at 9:50 pm

hi Mr. Wolff

today I picked up the cards and saw


that is a small slam all by my self, but I opened 2C, showing 22+ HCP hand.
LHO opp bid 2S, and partner passed.

At my turn I bid 3S, intending it to show a two-suited hand, not a simple take-out. If Michaels 1S – 2S shows 5-5 in hearts and clubs, why would this bid not be similar.

Partner, of course, bid 4D. Partner had 2-3-5-3 distribution, with T98 in hearts and Qxx in clubs, KQxxx in diamonds. Of course it makes 7H or 7C. 6Nt makes as well.

Without the interfering bid we get there. But I think I lost my way as after 4D I simply bid 6C, fearing that 4H or 5C would be passed out. Making 7, laydown.

What went wrong and what should have been done to get to either 7H or 7C?

Thanks in advance for your advice.

Jeff SAugust 16th, 2014 at 1:16 am


I think I would have been worried about getting passed out too. I don’t really get partner’s initial pass – he seems to have plenty to bid 3D facing a 2C opener which might have made it easier going forward as you would know he has a decent hand.

But he did pass, so maybe 3H instead of 3S? It is already a game force so wouldn’t it ask partner to ignore his diamonds and pick clubs or hearts? I’m not sure what further bids would be useful at that point so maybe just take a deep breath and go to seven in whichever suit he names.

Works out here, but maybe I am reasoning from results. I just wanted to throw it out there before our gracious host shows the right way. 🙂

RobinAugust 16th, 2014 at 2:26 am


I have been asked to tell you that Bobby Wolff’s internet is temporarily down. He has not been able to access the site, view or respond to comments for approximately the past 24 hours.

Internet professionals are working to fix the problem and we anticipate having the problem resolved by 3pm EST Saturday August 16th.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to resolve the problem.

Judy Kay-WolffAugust 17th, 2014 at 2:14 am

Unfortunately, the message I forwarded to Robin for submission is proving to be erroneous. Although I was advised that both Bobby’s and my internet connections would be in working order today, another glitch occurred. Hang in .. it might not be fixed until Monday and sadly there is nothing that can be done on our end.

Bobby WolffAugust 18th, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Hi David,

I’m back and happy to be.

Yes, of course, it was the club aces and kings, not the diamond, which became denuded and subject to falling together. But. since they were both minors, I will only ask for forgiveness.

Bobby WolffAugust 18th, 2014 at 9:26 pm

Hi Iain,

Your recount of Nye Bevin’s involvement and Terence Reese’s naked lady, at least theoretically, actually happened causing one to marvel at the importance of concentration.

Perhaps, though, in the case of Terence he might consider the other choice, if only to emphasize the more important activities in life (although perhaps not more potent than world class bridge). Both nuclear activities and the other are concerned with bombshells.

Bobby WolffAugust 18th, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Hi Mircea,

There are many great stories about Giorgio who, where ever he appeared, stole the show with his personality and charm. I’ll try and conjure up some of the more amusing tales, but only when I have time to, at least attempt, to do them justice.

Yes, I do prefer changes of suits NF when responding to WTB’s. The only exceptions being 3 hearts to 2 spades, and 3 spades to 2 hearts, both to cater to possessing a 2 suiter other than the WTB’s suit.

Bobby WolffAugust 18th, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Hi Peter,

Yes when those big, bad opponents interfere they create a hurdle to be jumped.

However, since they only overcalled 2 spades and since your partnership was now forced to game, you could securely bid 3 clubs, knowing that your partner would have to respond.

After that bid and your partner’s simple raise to 4 clubs, the road is cleared to enable a simple 7 clubs by you ending the auction. Of course 7 hearts is also laydown (assuming that the opening leader would not be leading a club from 3 small) but getting to a laydown grand slam is usually enough to satisfy everyone, except, of course, matchpoint specialists who always seek (but not always find) the highest scoring spot.

Thanks for your blockbuster hand and I apologize for my delay in answering it.

Bobby WolffAugust 18th, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Hi Jeff S,

Thanks for your input in our response to Peter. Sometimes and in many bridge games, a player needs to sacrifice science for practicality, especially if partner is not well taught the bridge basics. Those basics may include many different areas of bridge such as which bids are forcing and which are not, so rather than be left like a groom at the altar it is sometimes just common sense to blast and I would guess the odds are in favor of just bidding 7 clubs or possibly 7 hearts in case partner has 2+ hearts and only 1 club.

At any rate, thanks for your comment.

Bobby WolffAugust 18th, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Hi Robin,

Thanks for your time to issue an interim update on my predicament. As always, you are being a very good dependable and responsible step daughter.

David WarheitAugust 18th, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Okay, I forgive you. Welcome back!