Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 25th, 2015

Ah beautiful passionate body
That never has ached with a heart.

Algernon Swinburne

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

*Two-plus clubs



The journalist who analyzed today’s deal remarked that his side had taken a cruel beating in the second round of the Spingold Knockout Teams from Las Vegas last summer. This deal, however, was a near miss that felt especially painful.

Put yourself in declarer’s shoes. After a friendly diamond lead – the 10 holding in dummy – you play a club to the jack and king. The spade nine goes to the jack and ace. You now lead a second club: 8, 9, 10, low. So where are the missing high cards?

At the table declarer correctly decided that his RHO had the club ace, and since his LHO had bid with only the diamond queen and the club king, he must have the heart king. So he ran the heart queen, which was allowed to hold the trick.

A diamond to the ace then the heart ace and another heart now endplayed the defenders. At that point the defenders had two tricks in, and when West played a spade, declarer should have ducked in dummy.

Now if East takes his spade king, the only other trick the defenders can score is the club ace. If East ducks his spade king, declarer wins, cashes the diamond king then exits with the diamond jack. That forces West to win the diamond queen. He has a diamond winner to cash but then has to provide a stepping stone to the ninth trick in dummy in the form of the heart jack at trick 13.

It feels right to compete on a hand like this, where your values lie outside diamonds, and your trump spots are so good. While clubs rates to be your best fit, I’d simply compete to two hearts, knowing partner is guaranteed to have at least three hearts. You may well be able to cope with a force by ruffing in partner’s hand.


♠ Q 5 2
 Q J 10 6
 10 5
♣ Q 10 7 4
South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
1 2 Pass 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


Iain ClimieAugust 8th, 2015 at 10:56 am

Hi Bobby,

Any case for double on the BWTA today, and how would you rate it compared to 2H? If pard bid 2S, would you pass or move to 3C? I think the former may be better at pairs, the latter is more worth consideringa at teams.



Patrick CheuAugust 8th, 2015 at 1:32 pm

Hi Iain and Bobby,if South reopens with a double and pard bids 2S, it feels right to pass unless pard has 3415,in which case the 54 club fit plays better,but at a level higher,and 2S plays better with doubleton diamonds,unless spades break badly.I would pass at teams,but is that correct? Regards~Patrick.

jim2August 8th, 2015 at 1:38 pm

I confess that I also would have wanted to double in BWTA. It could hardly be penalty, and would seem to show a max non-jump response to a TO double and imply support for the black suits.

Patrick CheuAugust 8th, 2015 at 1:49 pm

Hi Jim2, Question of whether 2H or double by South,are we missing game here in view of pard’s pass over 2D?Or is it a case of trying to find a club fit?

jim2August 8th, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Well, 2H sounds like five cards or more, and East’s double declination to raise diamonds makes me more afraid that North has three of them than Our Host is. To me, the suit sounds like it’s 6-3-2-2, or even 6-4-1-2.

So, at this point, I would be suggesting a spade 4-3 as well as a club fit. Often, the weaker hand’s trump suit plays better because of transportation and the fact that the stronger hand is more likely to have transferable values. Here, however, my spades are good enough to ruff or over-ruff a third diamond.

Thus, I think this is probably a part score hand in view of partner’s pass, but pard does not know I have any values or black suit cards.

Bobby WolffAugust 8th, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Hi Iain, Patrick & Jim2,

An overview:

It is true that any of the other three suits may be superior, but how to tell? I will suggest 2 hearts and a likely 7 card fit (possibly about only 30%, 8 and, if so, the only thing lost, in my being the declarer, has been giving my distribution away). True, all facts mentioned by your panel of three are right on. but:

1. The only 8 card+ likelihood, are clubs and that forces us one level higher. (Are we playing IMPs, rubber bridge or matchpoints?)

2. By examining the convoluted play expected with whatever suit eventually chosen will be a study of who knows and likely a return to nothing better than probable guesswork.

3. By merely chirping 2 hearts removes moving parts from the decision, at least to me, an always plus which helps prevents aberrations from occurring. (such as partner with 4-3-3-3 somewhat tempted to pass for penalties, since not game and hoping your hand produces a couple of tricks instead of the no quick tricks that you possess this time). Should I further describe that action is strange or that partner may sometimes make strange decisions?

4. When your hand rebids 2 hearts, your distribution will start out not being known, but if you double and partner bids a black suit all will then very likely know declarer’s exact distribution from the get go (because of his double, pass and then black suit bid either 4-3-2-4 or 3-3-2-5). And don’t forget that the worthy opponents will declare better if and when your bid causes them to compete to 3 diamonds. Can anyone of us with our combined experience of playing so many lifetime hands not say, “Gee (or Damn), today’s opponents seemed to play so well against us?”.

5. If all the above is at least close to true, it, follows to me, that both being a good partner and a difficult opponent would result in my choice, but obviously it now reverts to dame fortune and what she has in store. The key words are that it is close, but if one reverts to what I think high level bridge is about, then following the pattern suggested (involving partnership) will simply work better in the long run. However, doubling may work out better psychologically for would be perfectionists?

Bill CubleyAugust 8th, 2015 at 3:32 pm


You can figure out a Stepping Stone Coup to get to dummy. When I do this it is sort of I fell into it, or as I call it, a Tripping Stone Coup. 😉

Bobby WolffAugust 8th, 2015 at 3:44 pm

Hi Bill,

Everyone cannot be a Gene Kelly.

And if some partners would have realized that it is better to have been the dummy their results would have tripped the lights fantastic, Stone or Roth.

bobby wolffAugust 12th, 2015 at 3:27 am

Hi Patrick,

The above advice tends to be quite iffy. However of the responder to the original doubler now elects to reopen with another, do something intelligent TO double, once the doubler has spoken be it any of the other 3 suits, discipline should require his partner to pass and accept partner’s judgment, when the original doubler opts for spades (even if the other guy holds 5 clubs, as long, of course, as he also holds 3 spades).

Where ever really good partnerships alight there will be a built in discipline on every hand bid which both partners can totally rely.