Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised.

George Will

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


When a contract seems to depend on a reasonable break in a long suit, you should always consider what other chances you might have if the key suit doesn’t behave.

In today’s deal South was constrained to open one diamond. Thereafter he tried to apply the brakes, but North had the bit between his teeth, and would not let his partner out below six notrump, against which West led the spade king. The contract was certainly reasonable, but South didn’t give it his best shot.

After winning the spade in hand, South returned the spade jack and threw a diamond from dummy. West led a third spade and this time dummy discarded a heart. Declarer next tried the king and another club, but when West showed out he was in deep trouble, since he had discarded potential winners from dummy. He ended up a trick short.

Try the effect of leading your low club to the ace at trick two. The next club lead exposes the position and now, when South leads the spade jack from hand, he knows to discard a club from dummy. With the heart finesse right, there are all sorts of additional chances for the 12th trick, either from the diamond breaking, as they do here, or from a squeeze on either opponent, since there are threats in all four suits.

Furthermore, if the clubs had proved to be 3-2, declarer could still have set up his 12th trick from the spades, with no need to rely on either red suit.

One must agree how to show a weak hand after opener’s reverse. One style is for simple calls to be non-forcing with fourth suit strong. Alternatively, use a two no-trump call as weak, or even (my favorite) to use the cheaper of fourth suit and two no-trump as a potentially weak hand. In this last style you’d bid a forcing two no-trump here, planning to raise three no-trump to four no-trump, to invite slam.


♠ A J 10 2
 A Q 10 3
 7 6 4
♣ K 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♣ Pass
1 Pass 2 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


BryJune 17th, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Excellent play by South on the K Spade opening to time it right with the club before Spade.
What does our South do if West reaches into his bag of nothingness and leads a minor suit?

bobby wolffJune 17th, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Hi Bry,

Test the clubs first and if 3-2 merely take a heart finesse for 12 or 13 tricks. However if 4-1 merely give up a club and immediately or later (depending on whether East then switches to a spade or heart), then plan on taking the heart finesse for the contract.

From the above description one can then see the advantage to the defense for establishing the possible setting trick immediately in spite of the danger, on this bidding, of possibly giving away a free spade trick by choosing spades to lead.

Often, by keeping our eyes and ears wide open, we learn necessary things by our experiences.

Patrick CheuJune 17th, 2015 at 7:51 pm

Hi Bobby, Re BWTA, I play 2N here as weak which shows 5-7 or bad 8,which opener can pass,if he has only 16or17. Two spades shows extra and Gf. In your methods,you play 2S and 2N(forc) which could show weak hands?My apologies if I have got these wrong…regards~Patrick.

bobby wolffJune 17th, 2015 at 10:21 pm

Hi Patrick,

Probably yes, but I do not feel at all strongly one way or the other. American Standard as a bridge system, is far from perfect and reverse bidding and its responses are part of the reason.

However, a fairly clear way of expressing the differences is to understand that the so-called standard way forces the reverse bidder to make a further call and so all 2 level bids by the responder (or, of course 3 level as well) are one round forces. However if the opener now rebids 3 of his original suit it can be passed as well as a raise to 3 of the major that the responder has rebid.

The result of the above has caused the opener to have a little better hand in order to effect an original reverse (possibly 17+ but less if a fit is on the way)