Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, November 1st, 2014

Protection is not a principle but an expedient.

Benjamin Disraeli

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


Would you balance here as East over one heart? Doing so is fraught with danger. Though partner is marked with some values, he has not overcalled, so the opponents rate to be able to outbid you, and you just might push them into a makeable game.

However, one intrepid East bid two diamonds; South showed a good hand with clubs and hearts (yes, doubling for take-out was a sensible option) and now North re-assessed his hand and jumped to game.

West led and continued diamonds, and South ruffed and cashed the heart ace and king. Then he set about clubs, ruffing the fourth in dummy, while East discarded two diamonds. Any attempt to ruff a diamond back to hand to draw the last trump was likely to be overruffed by West, but South found a neat solution. He led a diamond from dummy, and discarded a spade. East led his last diamond, and again declarer threw a spade. Fresh out of other suits, East was forced to return a spade, which South won with dummy’s ace, then ruffed a spade back to hand and drew the last trump.

East, it proved, was doubly wrong. First in re-opening and pushing North-South to a game they would not otherwise have reached; and second by failing to defeat it. Suppose that he discards one diamond and one spade on the clubs. Then, if the play goes as before, he has a fifth diamond to play, and West’s heart jack is promoted for the setting trick.

It bears repeating that after the double of a major suit, a jump to two no-trump should be a high-card limit raise, so that the double raise shows a preemptive raise. This convention, named after Bobby Jordan or Alan Truscott, depending on whom you ask, is efficient because no natural meaning is needed for the two no-trump call after a double. Redouble usually shows a maximum pass without spades.


♠ K J 10 7
 J 9 5
 A 5
♣ J 7 6 3
South West North East
Pass Pass 1♠ 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


ClarksburgNovember 15th, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Mr. Wolff,
A question arising from today’s BWTA:
This frequently-occurring start to a competitive auction seems worth some thought and effort to find a sound approach for various Responder hands.
I know you are not a fan of Bergen Raises…but Partner and I are currently playing that over the Double, 3C and 3D are the normal four-trump Bergen Raises, 7-10 and 10+ respectively, while 2C and 2D show the same strength ranges, but with only three trumps. 2NT starts a relay to a long strong minor, while new Majors at 2-3 level are natural (both of these less likely by a passed-hand responder).
Partner and I want to get this right, for us. In your view, (assuming that Redouble,2NT and the weak jump-raise are as per your BWTA item), what are the best uses of the various other bidding spaces available over their TO Double?

Bobby WolffNovember 15th, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

At least to me, the following caveats are my choices, but keep in mind, only my personal opinion:

1. Anything that covers somewhat relevant constructive efforts in the bidding becomes worthwhile if:

A. It is desired, not forced fed, by both members of the partnership

B. It can, and more importantly, NEVER be forgotten by either player, even if it has not come up (nor been discussed) for months prior.
In my numeric opinion one forget will cancel ten slightly improved judgments, since too often in bridge, close percentage advantages (60-40) turn out to be actual losses.

C. Since I would rate the combined partnership confidence exuded by a partnership as even a step ahead of the actual overall choice of a mutually agreed basic bidding system e.g. Standard American vs. Precision Club, trying to exactly remember what rare bidding situations entail tends to take away focus from the basics of intense concentration and attention to detail which occur continuously while competing.

D. There would be no way (except some access to computer simulation of perhaps 1000 hands on the conventional subjects you name)
to even begin to venture a learned opinion on their worth.

E. My guess is that what you want to play is just fine, but I would never suggest doing it, unless by doing so, it makes both partners happy to deal with it.

F. There are plenty of more important bridge items for a partnership to discuss such as: choices of opening leads after specific bidding sequences, when in the defense of a hand, deception becomes more important than following conventional habits, when a partnership will tacticily overbid in order to get the opponents to err, come together in evaluation to simple oft occurring situations including when to either use or not to use Stayman (while holding a 4 card major) when responding to 1NT or when to open 1NT instead of a 5 card major, or when, if ever, it is right to open 2NT with a singleton or the specific use of common conventions when faced with dilemmas which occur.

And when a partnership merely overcalls 1 spade with 2 hearts holding. s. x, h. AKJ10x, d. AJxxxx, c.x and then hears 4 spades by one’s LHO passed around to you, now wondering how to bid diamonds and get partner to not give a preference to hearts with 3-3 or especially with 2-2 or please forbid, 2-3.

The above is what an up and coming potentially best and brightest bridge partnership should spend their time doing, although perhaps not as much fun, but surely more beneficial.

Sorry for not directly answering your question, but I would be guessing and I hope my overall advice is worth receiving.

Good luck!

ClarksburgNovember 15th, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Actually you did answer my question, perhaps indirectly but most helpfully, i.e. what we are now doing is probably quite OK… as long as we both want to do it, and neither ever forgets!
The more general and more important overall advice on building and maintaining a partnership, and what’s important in competing, is most appreciated. Having picked up many such general points at this blog site, we are continuously working along those directions.
Many thanks.