Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Observe due measure, for right timing is in all things the most important factor.


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

*Transfer to spades


Game on the North-South cards is a perfectly reasonable contract, though it is not mandatory for you as South to break the transfer here, despite your excellent trumps. There are plenty of weak hands with scattered values opposite where game will have no chance. Give yourself a small doubleton club and an extra heart and it would be a whole different story.

The lead of the club queen to trick one dramatically reduces your hopes of making game. You might as well cover, and East wins his ace to return a low club. When West shifts to a trump you must win the spade 10 in dummy. Next you must finesse in hearts rather than diamonds.

Now the spade ace, followed by the spade jack to the queen allows you to take another heart finesse. Then you cash the heart ace, ruff a club in dummy and now a diamond to the 10 endplays West for a diamond lead or a ruff and discard.

It may not be immediately obvious, but if you play it through you will see that should you take a diamond finesse at trick four, West will win and exit in trumps again, leaving you an entry short for all the finesses you need to take.

The key to the deal is that when you give up the lead, you must force the opponents to give you some help – and that means removing all their black-suit exit cards before allowing them to regain the lead.

You may not make three no-trump despite your club stopper. Partner rates to have a strong doubleton heart or a three-card heart fragment, angling for no-trump, but the eight-card diamond fit and singleton spade argue that a trump contract will play better. There are hands where four hearts might make, I suppose but this doesn't feel like one of them.


♠ 3
 K 10 9 2
 Q 9 3 2
♣ A 7 4 3
South West North East
1♠ Pass
1 NT Pass 2 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


jim2February 11th, 2015 at 1:40 pm

What was the recommended bid in BWTA? My guess on the text is 4D, but I am not sure.

How should North bid a 5-3-3-2 pattern?

Iain ClimieFebruary 11th, 2015 at 1:50 pm

Hi Bobby,

On the play hand, should east go passive with a trump at T2, given his defence in the red suits? Does it help, though?



slarFebruary 11th, 2015 at 2:47 pm

What would it take to go to 3NT? The CQ, all other things being equal?

I think opener would pass 3D if balanced. Bidding 3H shows extras which wouldn’t be possible with 5-3-3-2 distribution (that would be opened 1NT).

Iain ClimieFebruary 11th, 2015 at 3:42 pm

On BWTA, is it worth considering a few possible ha ds and where we’d lime to end up? Presumably pard is above minimum, while we’ve shown around a 9 count with 4 diamonds. A modesty but not untypical hand opposite might be KQxxx AJx KJxx J when 5D is too high but pard could be stronger.

bobby wolffFebruary 11th, 2015 at 4:11 pm

Hi Jim2 and Slar,

At least to me, with the BWTA, partner’s 3 heart call would show a specific 5-3-4-1 hand, meaning I would not bid that way with only 2 hearts. To do so, is to cater to partner having a 1-5-4-3 hand with medium hearts and on the previous round of bidding (before supporting the diamonds), choosing not to select hearts for fear of going set in the wrong part score.

Obviously it then would mean with 5-4-4-0 the rebid over 1 NT would always be 2 hearts (not 2 diamonds) even with 4 small.

Slar, yes the singleton queen of clubs could be the deciding factor in pulling off a 3NT contract, but unfortunately a very experienced opening leader may select the King of clubs as his lead because of that possibility (dummy will be announcing a singleton club and he would be more likely to pass partner’s 3NT with a singleton honor, J or Q and hope not the ace).

Jim2, thanks much for taking your time to answer my investigative question. (no definite answer yet but we are closer). Back to the ranch, also you are totally correct with the no chance of opener being 5-3-3-2 since that distribution, when not opening 1NT would never justify bidding again after diamonds were raised unless originally too much for a 1NT opening and if then, would choose to merely raise 1NT to 2 or 3 immediately.

As a final thought, while holding s. x, h. KJxxx, d. Axx, c. K10xx and responding 1 forcing NT to 1 spade and having partner rebid 2 diamonds, must now rebid 2NT, not 2 hearts but with the same hand without the ace of diamonds, would then, of course, merely rebid 2 hearts, with pass (IMO) a relatively poor 2nd choice.

With that above thought and to the scientific bridge lover it should now becomes apparent why with 5-3-4-1 it becomes necessary for the opener to bid 3 hearts after 1S P 1NT P 2D P 2NT P ?.

Thanks to both you two and everyone else who have the patience and fortitude to sift through these theoretical discussions.
No firm announcement was given as to how many diamonds for the original responder to now bid. My personal ratings: 4 Diamonds=100, 4 Hearts=90, 5 Diamonds=80 3NT=40, leaving someone else to try his luck in the determination.

bobby wolffFebruary 11th, 2015 at 4:22 pm

Hi Iain,

In answer to your first question, I do not think so (answer: game will be scored up) as long as declarer carefully uses his 2 trump entries to finesse hearts first and then his club ruff entry to complete the diamond gambit.

Yes, with your second post, the hand chosen by you is typical with only 4 hearts being a decent possibility (a random guess, perhaps 30%, to score up a lucky make). I would actually vote to pass 3 diamonds with your example, following Bob Hamman’s oft spoken quote, “Please do not expect a perfect hand from me, simply because I’ll never have it”.

Iain ClimieFebruary 11th, 2015 at 5:13 pm

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for this, and I thought that Bob Hamman comment might apply. On the subject of perfection, though, I just looked at all the typos in my second hurried post today. Judy often kindly offers to correct these, but you can see why I don’t often fret much about occasional slips in the column. Regular ginger, no dinger, ok finger trouble is a frequent downfall.


bobby wolffFebruary 11th, 2015 at 5:47 pm

Hi Iain,

To agree and say I understand is understating it.

And to think that Judy will mind when I mess up the bathroom, leave a trail in the kitchen, match blue with black and slightly forget Valentine’s day, it is hard to believe.

Thatsss allll folksss!

Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 11th, 2015 at 6:16 pm

Bobby Dear,

Not to worry about the bathroom, kitchen or clothes mismatchups. However, you can’t forget the sentimentality and romance of Valentine’s Day as I’ve already made a reservation. Bring lots of money.


Your favorite bridge partner

bobby wolffFebruary 11th, 2015 at 6:28 pm

Back at ya, Judy my love,

Reminds me of “A Chorus Line” and the undervalued great song, “What I did for love”.

As to your request, “I would if I could, but I can’t, so I won’t”.

Thoughtfully and Nostalgically,


Judy Kay-WolffFebruary 11th, 2015 at 6:39 pm


Sorry I’ve been lax on my job of spelling disciplinarian, but I’ve been preoccupied by an upcoming blogging issue of my own.

Besides, I am always so fascinated by your retorts, I don’t pay much mind to your slips of the fingers. However, since I was a kid, spelling and words were on my list of priorities. Had my interest in numbers and words been weighted in a different order, perhaps it would not have taken a toll on my own bridge acumen. However, vicarious thrills via Norman and Bobby have more than made up for my reversal of fortune.

Iain ClimieFebruary 11th, 2015 at 11:54 pm

Hi Judy,

Thanks for the kind comments.

Hi Bobby,

I looked up the original St. Valentine, although there may be different people linked by the same name. As martyrdom seems to have occurred to at least one, can I remind all male readers of this column not to forget Saturday nor to make an appropriate gesture. The sin of omission can get taken really, really badly!


bobby wolffFebruary 12th, 2015 at 5:36 am

Praise Iain,

Yes, even the word omission may leave a sour taste denoting, being outed, failure, not done and, worst of all, a poor percentage play, maybe all four, or at least it may seem.