Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 29th, 2014

I'm hopeful thou'lt recover once my dust,
And confident thoul’lt raise me with the just.

Marquis of Montrose

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


In the 2008 World Championship finals, the first board of the last day saw England, the losing team, mount a big charge against Italy, to claw back to a tie in the match.

The Italian South heard his partner double four clubs for takeout, and removed the double to four diamonds, doubled by West. North then bid four hearts, again doubled by West, down 500. In the other room, our featured room, the Italian East opened only three clubs. This allowed the English to play three no-trump on the auction shown.

West led the spade queen, ducked, and continued with a small spade. The partnership’s conventional style of leading was consistent with pretty much any spade holding that included the king and queen, so declarer, Nick Sandqvist, went wrong here by putting in the 10. That lost to the jack, and East switched to his diamond. Declarer ducked, and West won, the defender’s third trick, and cleared the spades. Sandqvist appeared to be in trouble, but when he cashed the heart ace-king and East played the 10 and nine, he realized dummy’s Q-7 of hearts constituted a tenace over West’s J-6.

He cashed the club king and ace, forcing West to part with two diamonds, bringing him down to one spade, two hearts, and two diamonds. When he exited with the spade three, pitching his club loser, West had to win and choose between giving dummy three extra heart winners or declarer three extra diamond tricks.

The minimum requirements for a positive response to a two-club opener vary from partnership to partnership, but the more your response pre-empts partner from describing his hand, the better your suit should be. I would bid three diamonds if my club king were a sixth diamond, but not otherwise. It normally works best to temporize with two diamonds and let partner describe his hand.


♠ 8 5 2
 8 5
 A J 7 5 2
♣ K 8 7
South West North East
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


Iain ClimieSeptember 12th, 2014 at 9:25 am

Hi Bobby,

Would you consider bidding 2N on the BWTA hand? Not ideal, risking the strong hand being dummy while softer values would be preferable, but it avoids playing catch up later. Might there even be a case for reversing the meanings of 2N and 3D here, so the latter is a balanced positive?



bobby wolffSeptember 12th, 2014 at 11:03 am

Hi Iain,

Yes I may consider bidding 2NT instead of 2 diamonds and there is a case for reversing the meanings of 2NT and 3 diamonds here.

However you and I are in a definite minority in suggesting getting this type of significant change done, much less overcoming other very good players probable violent objections to do so.

Yes, they will continue having difficulties playing catchup, convincing partner that a hand containing an ace and a king (opposite a GF opening bid) would only make a minimum response to partner’s very strong opening bid, but somehow they will continue to think that to do so, with this bland type of high card and suit distribution, just too much of a distortion.

The above is why I have always preferred a strong club with control showing responses and only then start to seek a trump fit.

In the next life we may be dealt having the opportunity of knowing each other earlier and forming a hoped for formidable bridge partnership, but until then, we will only be able to dream, instead of the experience, of actually accomplishing it.

Thanks for even bringing up the possibility, because by doing so, shows a definite commonality in our bridge theory philosophy.


jim2September 12th, 2014 at 3:46 pm

My local paper repeated the print answer for the September 9 column for the September 10 column.

This gives me two weeks to construct guesses as to what the play problem was, and which should prevail — the declarer or defense.

Text migration? Just another affliction …

bobby wolffSeptember 12th, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, I heard TOCM tm has become a more common disease, but the good news is that they are working on an effective vaccine.

Being not blessed with a medical background, I do not have enough masterpoints to be included in the discovery process, but I hear that playing, defending and bidding better will help with results.

In any event let’s hope for the best.