Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 8th, 2014

The noblest motive is the public good.

Sir Richard Steele

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


In today's deal the North hand is a particularly difficult one to describe facing a two-no-trump opening, since either minor suit might play much better than no-trump, but as it happens, despite your eight-card fits, you want to play no-trump today. Plan the play in six no-trump after a low spade lead.

Curiously, the hand is a guaranteed make, provided that West has at least one diamond. You win the spade queen, cash the diamond ace, then play a club to dummy’s ace.

Here you are home immediately, but assume nothing dramatic happens. If no king falls, try a diamond back to your queen, again prepared to claim if both opponents follow or if East has only one diamond. When you see West show out on the second diamond, simply lead another club. Should both opponents follow, you have six tricks in the majors and three in each of the minors by setting up clubs. But assume somebody has four clubs. If it is West who started with four clubs, he must duck the second club and now you have a second club trick in the bag. You can concede a diamond to East and set up your 12th trick in that suit. If it is East who started with length in both minors, he must win his club king.

Whatever major suit he exits in, you can run your major winners and guarantee to be able to squeeze him in the minor suits for your 12th trick.

This is a hand where some would argue that the form of scoring and vulnerability might influence you to open or pass. I say bridge is a bidders' game, and when you have points in your long suits and an easy rebid over partner's expected responses, bid first and apologize later. Switch the minors and I would pass, because of the rebid problem.


♠ 9 8
 K 9
 K 10 7 3 2
♣ A J 6 3
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


ClarksburgAugust 22nd, 2014 at 12:52 pm

In BWTA, suppose the minors lengths were in fact switched, but the hand was say about 2 points stronger. Would it then be OK to open the 4-card Diamond suit, fibbing about the suit lengths, or is it still a pass?

bobby wolffAugust 22nd, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Hi Clarksburg ,

Yes, it is OK to open a 4 card diamond suit ahead of a 5 card club suit in order to facilitate a relatively smooth rebid, 2 of an underneath minor.

Yes, it is a small lie, which sometimes may lead to an inferior final contract, but since that combination of difficult circumstances is relatively rare, it is clearly the right way to go, (according to whom I respect and, not by coincidence, agrees with my experience) rather than meekly pass, which, in the long run will be a losing philosophy.

It just gains too much when one side opens the bidding and starts the action with a positive approach, rather than to pass and more often than not get frozen out of either buying a winning contract, receiving the right opening lead, or pushing the opponents higher than they will be comfortable.

As an extra caveat, DO NOT open a mediocre or worse 5 card club suit (QJxxx or less) with the intention of rebidding it when 4 decent diamonds are also held (KJxx or better). Introducing 2 strains into the mix will significantly improve the overall chances of success.

Patrick CheuAugust 22nd, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Hi Bobby,re BWTA, with the same 11 count and minors reversed,would you not be ‘tempted’ to open 1D? Or does it depend on who you are playing against and the type of scoring? Playing Acol,I would open 1D and rebid 2C which pard knows could be longer..1D would be alerted.Having said that KJxx(D) seems a better defensive holding for pard to lead to than say AJxx(D),especially if K10xxx(C) needs to be set up before AD all depends on the layout of the whole hand.I stand to be corrected..regards~Patrick.

bobby wolffAugust 23rd, 2014 at 12:24 am

Hi Patrick,

Nothing much, if anything needs to be corrected.

It is an advantage to open the bidding and yes, if I only had 4 decent diamonds and a slightly better 5 clubs, with about the same strength, I would open 1 diamond in order to get both minor suits in the mix, rather than open 1 club and rebid 2 clubs.

Again, bridge bidding is nowhere near (or close) to an exact science, so just throw your chips into the pot and do what generally will work out best in the long run.

If need be, just close your eyes, and elect to joust with your opponents, but never, if possible, by accenting reluctance to join in.

Feint heart rarely wins in any kind of bridge competition, especially at higher levels.

DavidAugust 26th, 2014 at 5:51 pm

This is a really neat play problem. You have to recognize the combination of 3-2 clubs, forking LHO, and squeezing RHO.