Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle.

George Orwell

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



Today's deal focuses one of those suits that seem to feature remarkably often in the bridge problems – but which cause just as many problems in real life.

The auction features the forcing no-trump response by an unpassed hand to a major-suit opening bid. This allows North to raises one of a major to three with a shapely hand (typically four-card support)and invitational values, and to go through one no-trump to suggest about an 11-count with three trumps in a balanced hand.

For the record: playing the forcing no-trump is a good idea if you play two over one forcing. Otherwise it is certainly hard to differentiate between the various invitational hands.

As you can see, South has 10 top winners in four spades – at first, if not at second glance. When West begins with two top hearts against the spade game, declarer ruffs the second round then cashes the ace and king of trumps.

If trumps break, the hand is over, since declarer can draw trumps and then unblock clubs, and still have a trump left to reach his hand. But the 4-1 trump break is a little awkward for declarer, since he has to deal with unblocking dummy’s clubs before he can make 10 tricks. He cannot do this if he draws all the remaining trumps straight away. Instead he must cash two of dummy’s clubs, and only then can he draw the remaining trumps. On the last trump he discards dummy’s remaining club. He makes five trumps and five clubs.

To me this is a textbook raise to three no-trumps without going through Stayman. Factors in favor of this approach are the combination of your excellent values coupled with square side-suit shape and weak hearts, all of which argue that finding hearts might be the only way to go minus. And the simple raise gives far less away about your and your partner's shape to the opening leader.


♠ 8 5 2
 10 9 7 2
 J 5 2
♣ A K Q
South West North East
Pass 2 NT 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


Bill CubleyMarch 11th, 2015 at 3:18 pm

Great column and BWTA. No one has anything to add to your excellent explanation. Even the typo gremlins stayed away.

I suspect some will now comment just because. But life is like that.

Bobby WolffMarch 11th, 2015 at 3:38 pm

Hi Bill.

It is rare to attend an event in which the typo gremlins stay away, including this one.

All compliments should be directed to our superior cast of supporting actors (obviously including yourself), who in spite of the frequent gaffes, both analytical and grammatical, have managed to endure, expand, and create many other bridge educational opportunities, some of which (but not many), may even be worth learning, to go along with the usual suspects of almighty truths.

And now if only one or two of us could learn enough to place in our local duplicates, we will all become legends, at least in our own minds.

Judy Kay-WolffMarch 11th, 2015 at 5:18 pm

Lest we forget … this is a bridge forum .. not an English Lesson.
We each have our own specialties.


Mircea1March 11th, 2015 at 6:51 pm


Can this contract be made if this West trades a club for a diamond with his partner?

Bobby WolffMarch 11th, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Hi Mircea,

Offhand (meaning I am somewhat short on time) I do not think declarer (even at double dummy) is able to make 4 spades (10 tricks) when West has only a singleton club. Yes, declarer can score three heart ruffs in hand and also end play West into giving him a diamond trick, but he will score only 3 trump tricks in dummy, 3 heart ruffs in hand, 2 total club tricks and the king of diamonds, but the defense will take 1 club ruff, 1 heart trick and 2 eventual diamond tricks to make the final tally only 9 tricks. No other line of play for 10 tricks seems available including trying to create 2 entries to dummy by finessing the 8 of spades, since West can jump up with the 9 after the deuce is led from hand, but that defensive play doesn’t even seem to be necessary.

Peter PengMarch 12th, 2015 at 2:15 am

hi Bobby

I am back after a long time in Brazil, in a city where there was very little bridge. I mean very little.
A private club with a weekly sanctioned game. Having no car I was out of luck…
But I got my LM last month. Does not mean much anymore, but I got diplomas, etc. Will be sending questions

Keep up the good work

slarMarch 12th, 2015 at 3:26 am

I will know that I have “arrived” as a declarer when I pull off a jettison play like this one at the table. It is such an infrequent scenario that my mind will need to be in a very good place to both recognize the risk (losing control) and identifying the right technique.

Mircea1March 12th, 2015 at 7:48 pm

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for you analysis.