Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Order and simplification are the first steps toward the mastery of a subject — the actual enemy is the unknown.

Thomas Mann

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


I imagine that South was regretting his two-spade overcall after his partner, having found him with two of the five keycards and the trump queen, catapulted to the grand slam. What are your thoughts on the lead of the heart two?

One idea is to try to ruff two diamonds in the dummy. So, you win the heart lead, cash the diamond ace, cross to a trump and ruff a diamond. Now ruff a heart, ruff a diamond, and draw trumps. However, on this line, there is no parking place for your fourth club, so you will need a 3-3 club break, which is distinctly against the odds.

A much better plan is to ruff four hearts in your hand with your four high trumps. Win the opening lead and ruff a heart high, West discarding a club. Now play a club to dummy (before West discards any more clubs) and ruff another heart high, followed by a diamond to the ace and another high heart ruff. Then play a spade to dummy and ruff the last heart high, before crossing to dummy with a diamond ruff to draw trump and cash the clubs. Well played — but was there a better defense?

There is rarely any point in leading a singleton against a grand slam except to try to cut declarer’s communications. I am not an advocate for the advice that you should always lead a trump against a grand slam, but here it is the lead that beats the contract.

The choice here is between a redouble — which tends to suggest an unbalanced hand with extras — or a simple call of one spade to show a reverse.


♠ J 10 9 3
 A J 8 7 3
♣ A K Q
South West North East
1 Pass Pass Dbl.

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 30th, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Hi Bobby,

I take your point about bridge being a bidder’s game, but is there a case for a trap pass on BWTa, although vulnerability is a factor? Bidding 1S may avoid opponents landing in that strain, while redbl may misfire if partner doubles 2D – do you leave it or not? I wonder if pass here should be played as 2-way – either minimum and fairly balanced or lurking with a big hand with Redbl covering an intermediate hand with good defence. Alertable, of course, but has the idea any merit?



Iain ClimieSeptember 30th, 2014 at 8:11 pm

Also, what if you redouble and partner with 3154 rubbish bids 2D (even though 1N or risking pass might be better). If confusion causes nobody to shift 1H XX, declarer must have fair chances opposite even very little.


bobby wolffSeptember 30th, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Hi Iain,

After an opening 1 bid is passed around to the opponents and they join in, the discipline sometimes leaves the room and the opening bidder is allowed to joust with the opponents.

Why is this type sequence different? Simply because the opening bidder’s pass narrows his type hand, and that will even become clearer if he continues to pass, since with either some trump support, any 4 or even 3 to an honor, he will make every effort to show partner that he, at least, will have something to wear to the party.

The above only agrees with you about the opener then can bid it up later and possibly surprise the opponents with more playing strength than was expected after his first peremptory pass, especially so if partner then supports the opener’s 2nd suit (in this case spades. How about partner holding only s. Qxxxx, h.x, d. xxx, c, Jxxx–Man alive, making 5, 11 tricks that is, in spades.

Yes, even disciplined high level bridge can still be fun. A side lesson to be learned is that after the opponents open and then pass the one level bid to the 4th seat opponent, he should feel the flag is up and waving and sometimes complete the bidding with a final pass. Not against a forcing club system however, but against a go as you please American (or better called) world standard.