Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 1st, 2015

A great social success is a pretty girl who plays her cards as carefully as if she were plain.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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


In today’s deal declarer appears to have an embarrassment of aces and kings, but the route home in three no-trump is less straightforward than it might initially appear. And the play would be considerably more complicated at pairs, where overtricks are, if not worth their weight in gold, certainly selling at a premium.

Against the no-trump game West leads a top spade, and since South does not want to see the defenders shifting to clubs, he wins the first trick and ducks a diamond to East.

That player wins and presses on with spades, and when South ducks, West plays a third spade. Now declarer knows that spades are 4-3, he can duck the next diamond to protect himself against the admittedly unlikely 4-1 diamond break. Today that care is justified! At matchpoint pairs it is far from clear that you would give up on the overtricks; it is far more likely that diamonds break (or are long in the hand with short spades) than that today’s distribution needs to be protected against. At teams or rubber, making the contract is paramount and one can let the overtricks look after themselves.

If spades had turned out to be 5-2, declarer would win the third spade and lead a low diamond towards dummy. West would follow suit, and declarer would have to rely on diamonds breaking, since he could not afford to duck the diamond and see West win the trick and cash out. When the diamonds do not break, he would have no realistic chance of success.

Without the opposition intervention you would surely have bid one heart rather than pass, since you don’t want to let the opponents get together cheaply and admit weakness here. Now that they have come in, I can see a good case for a jump to three clubs, preemptive, rather than bidding hearts. Your target is to make LHO’s task as hard as possible; this seems to do the trick.


♠ 7 4 2
 Q 10 6 5
♣ Q 10 9 3 2
South West North East
    1 ♣ Dbl.

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 15th, 2015 at 11:54 am

Hi Bobby, BWTA,Does the Vul come into it as regards bidding 3C as opposed to 2C vul v nv?regards~Patrick.

bobby wolffOctober 15th, 2015 at 1:12 pm

Hi Patrick,

Yes, Mr. Vulnerability is usually respected enough to need to pay attention to.

However, when jousting with good opponents, or even with above average ones, conservatism sometimes is every bit as much of a loser as is aggression, so if both sides are Vul, “man the torpedoes, full speed ahead” is my choice. Of course, without the 5th club, do not, I say, please do not, even consider bidding more than 2, V or N.

When holding a supporting major suit however, aggression is even more necessary, since:

1. Partner will have 5 (playing 5 card majors)
2. The level gets even higher, meaning more
disrupting to those disliked and distrusted opponents!