Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, December 12th, 2014

When I consider how my life is spent,
I hardly ever repent.

Ogden Nash

South North
East-West ♠ A 10 2
 Q 4
 A Q 6
♣ A Q 10 7 6
West East
♠ 9 8 5
 7 5
 9 7 4 3
♣ J 8 5 2
♠ K 7 4
 A K 10 9 8 6 2
 K J 2
♣ —
♠ Q J 6 3
 J 3
 10 8 5
♣ K 9 4 3
South West North East
Pass Pass 1♣ 4
Pass Pass Dbl. Pass
4♠ All pass    


Today's deal from the quarter-final of a recent world championships saw South with the same problem of what to do after hearing their partner open one club, then balance with a double of their right hand opponent's call of four hearts.

Had they known how balanced their partner was, they might have preferred to defend and collect plus 300, but we all have 20/20 hindsight, and at the table it looked right to bid four spades.

After West led a heart, East cashed the ace and king. What should East have done next? Quite a few defenders played a third heart to weaken declarer’s trumps. South pitched a diamond from hand, and ruffed in the dummy. Then he played the trump ace and 10, and East won with the king and played a fourth heart. Alas for the defenders, South simply ruffed and drew the last two trumps. Next, by starting clubs with a top honor from dummy, declarer could cater for either opponent holding four clubs, and ensure their game.

When Anne Rosen of the eventually victorious English women’s team was in the same position, she saw that declarer could not be defeated if she had five spades, so she focused her attention on setting the hand if South had just four spades.

Anxious to protect her potential tricks in spades and diamonds, she exited with a low trump at trick three. All declarer could do was win and play ace and another trump. But now Rosen could win and continue hearts, waiting to make the diamond king at the end for down one.

A jump to two no-trump suggests your basic hand type (balanced with 18-19 high cards). Do not worry about the weak heart stopper, let partner know what you have and expect such minor flaws to balance out in the long run. This way you let your partner take control and find a spade or club fit, as appropriate.


♠ A 10 2
 Q 4
 A Q 6
♣ A Q 10 7 6
South West North East
1♣ Pass 1♠ 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


Dave Memphis MOJODecember 26th, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Instead of down 300, it looks to me like he might go down 1400.

Happy holidays

Iain ClimieDecember 26th, 2014 at 9:33 pm

Hi Dave,

I think declarer should always manage his 7 trump tricks here but that is still 800 at this vulnerability if the defence don’t accidentally let her have a spade trick. I’d have bid 4H as East I must admit, but dummy is a nightmare even with trumps being 2-2-2 round the table. Give West the DQ and life is potentially very different.

All the best for 2015.



Dave Memphis MOJODecember 26th, 2014 at 11:21 pm

Hi Iain, Diagram says EW vulnerable.

bobby wolffDecember 27th, 2014 at 6:18 am

Hi Mojo & Iain,

And, as alluded to by Iain, if dummy has no more than Q10x in diamonds and not another face card, with the hearts 2-2 and the spade ace where it is expected to be, EW can make 4 hearts whether he is doubled or not, or even if South gets off to a rounded suit lead (best), instead of a pointed one.

This hand exemplifies just how tenuous our game can sometimes be, with huge swings possible, depending on the smallest of changes. Just another reason for going light on the criticism, until careful consideration enters the room, if it ever is allowed in.

Mojo, the supposition is centered around whether North either doubles or quietly passes, back in. The modern trend, after a back in double, is to take out, especially with at least 4 in a suit partner is expected to provide.

Is that an improvement over old fashioned? Bridge minds vary, but result merchants stand stubbornly behind what works, whatever it happens to be.

Herreman RJanuary 25th, 2015 at 10:29 am

As South, I would always pass partner’s double.
It has nothing to do with Modern trend…
I just don’t expect to make 4!S on this hand, even if partner has four of them. Adn if we can make 4n they are bound to fo down at least 2 tricks (taking a pessimistic view on the Law, possibly a double fit in the blacks), and they are vulnerable: easy choice…..