Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

It’s sometimes funny to watch some people doing something the wrong way but doing it confidently. Even more funny, they succeeded.

Toby Beta

South North
Both ♠ 4 3
 K J 9 8 4
♣ A J 8 6 5
West East
♠ J
 5 3 2
 K 8 7 5 4
♣ K 7 3 2
♠ A K 8
 Q 10 6
 Q 10 9 6 2
♣ 10 9
♠ Q 10 9 7 6 5 2
 A 7
 A J
♣ Q 4
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT Pass
3 ♠ Pass 4 ♠ All pass


Fred Gitelman is the chief executive of Bridge Base Online, by far the best way to play bridge online. It offers the opportunity to play or learn bridge and there are several invaluable teaching tools available. Plus you get the chance to watch the top players in the world, live on Vugraph.

He showed me a nice point of technique on the following deal. You might consider it routine but as the score indicated, good technique paid dividends. As South he declared four spades, and with the club finesse succeeding, the play was all about overtricks. On a diamond lead, he had to ruff a diamond in dummy. Now he led the spade four from dummy and when East played low, he went up with the queen.

Lucky or well judged? If spades are 2-2, his play is immaterial but if spades are 3-1, the only singleton he can pick up is the jack – since if West has a singleton ace or king you have three losers whatever you do. Because you cannot influence the majority of distributions, you should play to influence the ones over which you do have control.

Of course if you had an extra trump in dummy (let’s say you had the diamond queen instead of the jack) you can use your two entries to dummy to lead to the spade nine and 10. But as the cards lie this is not possible since you had to burn one of dummy’s trumps to ruff the losing diamond from the South hand.

My best guess would be to bid four hearts – which is what you were surely intending to bid had East passed. Once in a while hands like this produce lots of tricks on offense, but declarer can run the diamond suit in one no-trump doubled. So I would be reluctant to try to defend here. And if East is playing silly games, let him try and sort that out at the five-level on the next round.


♠ 4 3
 K J 9 8 4
♣ A J 8 6 5
South West North East
  1 Dbl. 1 NT

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


David WarheitMay 12th, 2015 at 9:26 am

South wins the DA, ruffs a D, and then cashes the HA & K and leads a third H. When E plays the Q, S ruffs low, crosses to the CA and leads a H, discarding his C, not caring which opponent ruffs in. Nothing works if S are 4-0, & my line fails if W has CK & singleton S8, but overall I think this is a better line of play; what do you think?

jim2May 12th, 2015 at 12:31 pm

David Warheit — this was a matchpoint hand. Most of the time I think your line will make 10 tricks, but it gives up a lot of OT chances.

For example, in the column hand, West will ruff the fourth heart with the JS and South still has the two top trump to lose.

Note also, that 2-2 trump splits (say, Hx – HX) would lead similarly to 10 tricks with the field making 11 something like half the time.

Bobby WolffMay 12th, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Hi David (and, of course, Jim2),

Well presented, David, but of course at least equally well defended, Jim2. And don’t forget AKJ with East and a singleton 8 with West (no doubt, even with hearts 3-3, Jim2’s sure to be layout, if he was declarer and adopting your line).

While exact percentages certainly have their place in the highest level of bridge, gut feel by the few world bridge genius’ who qualify, should not be overlooked.

At least to me, South’s jump rebid of 3 spades instead of only 2 (because of the relatively weak 7 card suit) is just as important as the playing of the hand since it directly is involved in the winning game bid result.

What would I do? Sadly I may only rebid 2 spades and play it there (although, by a slight stretch, partner may conjure up a 3 spade raise) but it often takes two to tango, leaving only the post-mortem in bridge for always the WINNER, no one else, to explain.

Bobby WolffMay 12th, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Hi David,

Please excuse, because after re-reading, you did not forget the surprise singleton 8 of trumps that I mentioned.

Pardon the interruption.

David WarheitMay 12th, 2015 at 4:03 pm

Jim2: Although this is matchpoints, I don’t think very many pairs will reach 4S, and thus the difference between 4S making 4 and 4S making 5 will be very small, but 4S down one should be pretty close to a zero. Frankly, it would never occur to me as S to rebid 3S, and then the NT bidder shows up with 1½ quick tricks and a singleton D. He could scarcely have more, yet 4S is far from a cakewalk. I like our host’s suggestion: rebid 2S and then on the very rare day that partner raises to 3, go for it and bid 4S.

bobby wolffMay 12th, 2015 at 5:11 pm

Hi David,

In these days of a forcing 1NT to a major suit opening, there will be many more raises to 3 spades with 10-12 HCP’s and a doubleton spade after first responding 1NT, or even sometimes 8-10 and 3 spades, but considering the responding hand too strong for an initial immediate raise e.g. s. xxx, h. Ax, d. xxx, c. Axxxx. (probably now closer to a jump to 4 spades rather than a pass to 2 spades). Points, Schmoints!