Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 11th, 2015

Among all forms of mistake, prophecy is the most gratuitous.

George Eliot

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


This deal comes from the Junior Europeans a few years ago and demonstrates that it is often dangerous to make predictions about anything at this game. For example: just how solid is a solid suit?

In the more sedate room in the match between Israel and Austria the Israeli South declared three no-trump on a heart lead. He finished up with only the six tricks he had started life with — three hearts and three club tricks, no more. He tried to force an entry to hand but the defenders did not continue playing on hearts and cashed out their diamonds and spades.

Far and away declarer’s best shot on the deal was to do what Andreas Gloyer of Austria did, after concealing his clubs in the auction. He ducked the opening heart lead! Then he could win the second heart, lead a club to dummy and a spade to the jack. If he could persuade the defenders to win and continue hearts, as they trustingly did, he could cash his two remaining heart winners to pitch the two blocking clubs from dummy. Now he could come to nine tricks from the hearts and clubs – so long as the club 10 dropped in two rounds.

But note that the effect of this card not falling in two rounds was, as Gloyer discovered, that when a defender cashed the club 10, it squeezed the dummy in spades and diamonds for down four! How embarrassing for this to happen in a suit where you held nine cards and the top four winners!

Your partner has suggested a slam, and denied a club control in so doing. When you cooperate by bidding four hearts you should promise a club control (which you have – in spades, so to speak) as well as suggesting suitability for slam. While you certainly would not make a try above the game level, you should allow partner to investigate for slam if he wants.


♠ Q 7 5 2
 K J 10 5 2
♣ A K Q
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass
3 ♠ Pass 4 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


slarSeptember 25th, 2015 at 7:05 pm

So what does 4H mean in BWTA? Is it just last train? This part of cue bidding has always confused me.
If partner really cares about clubs, I’d rather hear 3NT. If it was our agreement that playing in 3NT with an 8-card spade fit is illogical, then I would bid 4S over 4D because I don’t have the heart control.

bobby wolffSeptember 25th, 2015 at 11:16 pm

Hi Slar,

The BWTA hand represents old fashioned top players view of expert bidding, years ago.

When spades have been bid and jump raised, it is assumed that except for 3NT in rare occasions that partnership is going to play some numbers of spades. Therefore a bid of 3NT instead of a modern slam try (either serious or non-serious as decided by that partnership) was thought to be an attempt to offer that contract as a final destination.

Back at the ranch, when partner cues bids 4 diamonds undoubtedly showing the ace he is denying club control (skipped over it) so that a then bid of 4 hearts is a cue bid showing at least 2nd round control in hearts (in this case a singleton) and if so, then logically first round control in clubs since without such, there would be no slam.

If bridge was ever offered in a school system this type of reasoning would be 3rd or 4th year reasoning, vitally necessary to be on firm ground if becoming quite good is the goal.

Learning high-level bridge logic is tantamount to many things in everyday living and will teach among other things, mental discipline.

I hope the above makes sense to you and, of course, other interested readers.

W. B. Daniel IIIOctober 10th, 2015 at 3:20 pm

The reason for the late response is I read everything you write, but late, in bunches. I guess I am old fashioned but as S I would either bid clubs on my first bid or if I bid hearts I use a little known move called “the funny jump” where after the 1 spade response I jump to 3 clubs. This indicates a 4 card major and a 6 card minor and 6-11 HCP and is not forcing. Trying to play this hand in NT unless your N wants to play it is foolish.

I like the idea really of bidding and rebidding clubs. If partner does not want to bid hearts over 2 clubs, I am almost ready to chunk it in. Any South who bids NT on this hand rather than N he gets what he deserves.

I don’t play 2 over 1unless my partner insists on it. I consider it a bidding system which upon one partner opening generally causes a lot of conventional calls and creates a lot of problems with the more common responding hands from 6-11 HCP. You have conventions and then you have conventions that you have to have because of the iitial convention.

I really like 4 card majors. There the only conventions I use are the weak two bids, transfers and Stayman. In conjunctions with the weak 2 bids I mostly use Ogust, but that is it.