Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

What would life be without arithmetic, but a scene of horrors?

Tobias Smollett

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


With four-card trump support, do you always respond to a major suit transfer request at the lowest level, or do you break the transfer? Here North-South here took a simple route to game after a transfer break, and declarer won the spade queen with dummy’s ace, then drew trumps.

The contract appears to hinge on finding the club queen onside, but South found an extra chance when he immediately tried a low diamond towards dummy. As no honor appeared from West, declarer tried the effect of inserting the eight. When the eight forced East’s king, declarer was home. A low spade from East to West’s 10 was followed by the club 10. South won, then led the diamond queen to knock out the defense’s diamond ace. At that point South had established two winners in his hand, on which to discard dummy’s losing clubs.

Declarer’s diamond play looks illogical, as if he were creating an extra loser for himself, but in practice his maneuver was relatively unlikely to cost, since he was going to have two top losers in the diamond suit anyway, whatever he did. Had the diamond eight lost to the nine, South would still have lost only two diamond tricks, and there was always the club finesse in reserve.

Notice that East could not have both high diamonds as well as the club queen – if he did, given that he also held the spade king, he would surely have opened. So leading to the diamond eight was very unlikely to give up on a legitimate play for the contract.

The question is whether to correct to two hearts when partner has suggested a balanced hand. The 5-4 shape (and shortage in the major partner is unlikely to have length in) makes a two heart call reasonable. I wouldn’t hesitate to make that call if my heart nine were the 10. Now, even facing two small hearts I would have some guarantees that the heart fit would be relatively solid.


♠ 9 4
 Q J 9 6 4
 Q 8
♣ K J 5 4
South West North East
Pass Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass 1 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


Patrick CheuOctober 6th, 2015 at 9:38 am

Hi Bobby,Like the quote,but not sure East could have opened the bidding but perhaps doubled 2D for d lead with Kxxx xx AKxx Qxx, is that what you mean?regards~Patrick.

bobby wolffOctober 6th, 2015 at 11:00 am

Hi Patrick,

Mea Culpa!

Obviously we should have done one of two things, either make East the opening bidder (best). but if not, then just say that he may have doubled 2 diamonds with length, but including both the ace and the king. Then of course, it might not be necessary to suggest that West probably wasn’t ducking both major diamond honors when a low one was led toward Q8 in dummy.

The good news to counteract our admitted sloth is that our game is so varied, requiring accurate analysis both at the table and while reporting it, there is always something to talk about.

How’s that for distracting readers and thus walking between our well earned rain drops and also, most importantly, thanks to you for reading it carefully.

bobby wolffOctober 7th, 2015 at 8:11 am


If I could, I would, but I can’t, so I won’t.