Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

A learned fool is more foolish than an ignorant one.


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


Great Britain qualified through the European championships for the Bermuda Bowl three times in 15 years, and on all three occasions the event was played on something like home territory.

On the last of those three occasions the event was held in Killarney. Only one member of the team who qualified in 1981 (the earliest of the three) was still part of the team on that occasion. That was Tony Sowter, who for his sins was a long-time editor of a bridge magazine. Sowter was the hero on this hand, which won him an award for the best-played hand of the Cavendish team tournament in which it occurred.

His opponents were Zia Mahmood and Sam Lev, who on this occasion picked the wrong opponents to double. Zia led three rounds of hearts against the contract of four spades redoubled, and Sowter ruffed, giving Lev the long trumps.

Sowter now played the club ace and queen, ruffing in dummy when the king appeared, then simply played the spade ace and a second round of trumps. Lev put in the 10, and Sowter won and cashed one more club, as Lev had to follow.

When Sowter led another club, Lev ruffed, and now had to play a diamond.

Declarer could take the diamond queen and ace, pitching clubs from hand. At trick 12 the lead was in dummy for a trump coup: Sowter could lead a diamond from dummy and take the trump finesse for his contract, without having a trump to lead!

Hands with two aces and a 10-count should generally not be opened with a weak-two. (I might be prepared to make an exception in second seat vulnerable.) That is especially so when you have a hand so playable in both majors. Open one diamond, and while you might rebid two diamonds over one heart, you should be intending to raise one spade to two.


♠ A 7 2
 10 5 3
 A Q 9 6 4 3
♣ 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


Michael BeyroutiSeptember 10th, 2014 at 1:05 pm

I didn’t find this hand difficult to play. It is North’s Rdbl. that should have earned the award for best-bid hand. What was his intention in redoubling? To increase his imps or scare the opponents and push them to the 5-level?

bobby wolffSeptember 10th, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Hi Michael,

Yes, this bridge hand played like an accordion, unusual for a trump coup, which often requires deft timing and card reading, but this one, considering the bidding which came with, almost played itself, at least for a bridge expert like Tony Sowter.

North’s Redouble was, IMO, based primarily on ego as was the relatively bold bidding around the table. He liked his aces and while voicing confidence in his partner, he was also pressuring him to not come home limping.

Tony, at least on this hand, did not and, my guess, was a proud moment in his overall bridge career, due to the bridge prowess of his illustrious opponents.

Finally, yes a hoped for increase in IMPs was probably a goal, and North’s distribution (especially the singleton club) virtually insured a big time set, in case their opponents set tail and ran (again, IMO, not a chance to ever happen because of the overpowering bridge personalities present).

Tony SowterDecember 13th, 2014 at 1:44 am

How can I resist after all these years. Not so much a proud moment as a lucky one. Spectacular maybe.

Proudest moment – listening to the national anthem after winning the European Championship or perhaps helping a makeshift Venezuelan team beat a professional US team to win the Caribbean Open Championships.

Most memorable moment: listening to Omar Sharif record my words on the basic bridge tutorial in Omar Sharif plays bridge CD in his flat in Paris.

Perhaps closely followed by editing your authors words for World Bridge News!

Bobby – its nice to be remembered and you must have worked hard to produce this hand.