Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, September 6th, 2014

Neither situations nor people can be altered by the interference of an outsider. If they are to be altered, that alteration must come from within.

Phyllis Bottome

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



Accurate declarer play and sharp defense brought a well-deserved vulnerable game swing for one team here.

In one room, against four spades, on the auction shown, West led the club queen, overtaken by the ace, and East returned the heart queen, covered and ruffed. West’s club jack went to declarer’s king, who now played a trump to dummy’s ace and a spade to his king. Then he cashed the heart ace, ruffed a heart, returned to hand with a diamond, ruffed a heart, led another diamond to the king, and ruffed his last heart with dummy’s last trump. Now a diamond from dummy finished East, the defense coming to just one more trick.

In the other room East opened a weak two hearts and South jumped to the final contract of three no-trump. West led the club queen, taken by East’s ace.The club 10 was returned, ducked by South and overtaken by West who cleared the suit.

Declarer was home if he could make four spade tricks. At trick four he advanced the spade seven, intending to duck this to East, the safe hand. But West astutely rose with the queen, which forced declarer to win in dummy, thereby blocking the run of the spade suit. Although declarer could now finesse East for the jack, that would still only give him eight tricks. So South’s only realistic chance was to hope West had begun with the doubleton Q-J of spades, so South played a spade to his king. It wasn’t his lucky day — two down.

Your three-heart response to the two-no-trump opening is a Jacoby transfer, showing five or more spades. You have enough points to force to game (you may not make it, but that is not the point) and best now is to offer a choice of games with a call of three no-trump. Let partner pick which game to play; he knows your basic hand-type.


♠ A 10 8 6 4
 9 4
 J 8 6 3
♣ 5 3
South West North East
Pass 2 NT Pass
3 Pass 3♠ 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 20th, 2014 at 10:09 am

Hi Bobby,

Looking at the vulnerability on today’s play hand, is there any case at all for South just passing the weak 2H (even at IMPs) and taking the money? After all, East is surely going several off (the magic 200 looms at pairs) while there is a clear misfit and where are the 9 or 10 tricks coming from for game? Of course if we go back with +300 against -400 or -420 at IMPs, teammates may raise a quizzical eyebrow, but it could easily be +50 in other room. I can’t blame South for bidding 3N, and I suspect I’d have done the same, but if a swing at IMPs or a top at pairs were needed in a hurry, could pass be worth a try?



bobby wolffSeptember 20th, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Hi Iain,

Aye Iain, you’ve certainly got the conscience of South’s bidding problem after East opened 2 hearts, which for him, was at unfavorable vulnerability.

No one, surely not I, could blame any South for as you spoke, “take the money” in the form of vulnerable undertricks, not doubled, but still significant. You also do not speak with forked tongue, when you fear teammates quizzical eyebrows when you are +300, but they are minus 420 and if it becomes a “what if day” and partner decides to pass while holding a random good six card suit, AQ10xxx, in either black or only QJxxxx in diamonds and of course a black ace along with the necessary singleton, rather than doubleton heart, together with a lucky side fit, but in his opinion, not enough to bid.

Of course, if North, being short in hearts and having 2 hearts passed around to him and with a good suit to bid should not go quietly, possibly saving the day as long as South now comes to the partnership aid of now bidding their would be slam.

Everything considered, at least as far as my intuitions go, I agree with your choice of pass, but only under these vulnerability conditions, but then yours and my hide might be tougher than most in being able to discard later pitiful looks from about to be, former teammates.

The above only serves to emphasize the necessity for wannabe good teammates, to remain quiet, during the scoring period, and only thought to be poor teammates, rather than raise voices and remove all doubt.

As has been said many times before, the game of bridge while being played, becomes the master of everyone’s emotion and, although that will never change, to accept that concept may allow a much greater and winning peace of mind.

David WarheitSeptember 21st, 2014 at 8:08 am

You say that S’s “only realistic chance” was to play W for the QJ doubleton of spades. Actually, he had what I believe was a better chance, on the single assumption that he knew W was an outstanding defender and thus could be counted on to play the SQ from Qx. So, he wins the SA and finesses the S9 and cashes the SK. At this point he knows that E’s distribution is 3-6-2-2. Cash the DAK and lead a low H to the 9. E wins with, say, the 10 and leads a H honor. Duck & now S has another H trick: 3S, 3H, 2D & 1C: making 3NT.

bobby wolffSeptember 21st, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Hi David,

Quite right you are and only suggests to me that, with you lurking, we need to prepare and give East better spots in hearts to protect ourselves in our hand analysis.

Your presence is quite intimidating and worse, time consuming, in preparing our defenses.

However, I suggest you never change, since, no doubt, you give much pause for thought, and act like a David Bridgeseed causing bridge lovers everywhere to empower their imaginations.

Perhaps a thousand years ago in England, castle builders invented moats, when also faced with a competitive threat.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.