Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Tomorrow is not a promise. Tomorrow is a second chance.

J. R. Rim

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


In today’s deal when North set up a game-forcing auction and raised to three spades, South got slightly carried away. With no losers in the red suits, South checked on keycards and ended the auction in six spades when he discovered they were missing only one.

West led the diamond 10, and with dummy having so little in the way of extras, declarer could predict an almost certain club loser. So it seemed that the chances boiled down to the favorable trump division. His hopes were raised when a finesse of the queen won, but dashed when East showed out on the second round. There was no squeeze and South lost a club as well as a trump.

Declarer should have reasoned that, if he had to lose a trump trick, it might be possible that when an opponent eventually won with the king he would be forced to lead away from the club king. At trick two South should cash the heart ace; then he finesses in trumps, ruffs a heart and crosses to the spade ace to reveal the sure trump loser. Next he ruffs another heart and cashes his remaining top diamonds before putting West in with his trump winner. Now, with no safe exit cards left, West is reduced to leading a club. The chances of success for this line, once West turns up with three trumps, depend on West having precisely three hearts and no more than three diamonds. Additionally, if the heart king-queen fell early, dummy would offer a discard for the club loser.

This is a complex hand, and at the moment you have no idea where you are going. Start by doubling one heart, which is penalty not responsive – with any moderate hand and four or more spades you would just bid the suit, even if you had longer clubs. The question of how to develop the hand at your next turn may depend on where the opponents run.


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

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


Mircea1October 16th, 2015 at 11:20 am

Hi Bobby,

A belated Happy Birthday and many more to come!

How would you and Judy bid the column hand? Is responder better off going straight to game at his first rebid? This would be Fast Arrival showing no slam interest. What’s your opinion?

bobby wolffOctober 16th, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Hi Mircea1,

First, thanks for your wish. However, in truth, BD’s are probably the problem since without them no one could keep count and we all might think we are younger than we are.

Your solution of fast arrival showing no slam interest has merit. However, depending a little on the style of this partnership (does rebidding 2 spades promise more than 5 spades?, which in turn would then need to quantify a 2NT rebid by opener),

In my heart of hearts (after deciding to GF with 2 clubs, assuming we are playing that style) I would tend to rebid 2NT, not raise spades, preferring to show the distribution rather than where my high cards are located. Of course that rebid will then enable my partner to again rebid spades (holding 7). Then I would choose to only raise to 4, since my first bid was a slight overbid.

And, if my partner (Judy) would then cue bid 5 diamonds, I, as North would merely return to 5 spades, causing her to think before either pressing on or just going quietly at 5S.

However, as you could guess, we cannot emphasize good play at bad contracts unless we somehow get that partnership to an aggressive contract (aggressive meaning bad).

However, Judy would have made 6 if we would have bid it. No fool I, even though she is now sound asleep and probably dreaming about how to play this baby.

Welcome back. We have missed your positive personality!

jim2October 16th, 2015 at 2:57 pm

On BWTA, what would two diamonds mean? If this is not a good candidate hand for that, could you give some examples for which two diamonds would be the indicated bid?

bobby wolffOctober 16th, 2015 at 5:50 pm

Hi Jim2,

In the very old days, a common “baby” psyche was, as the partner of the opening bidder and holding shortness in one major, perhaps, s. Jxxx, h, xx, d. K10xx, c. QJx and after 1D by partner, dbl by RHO would psyche 1 heart sometimes being then able to steal the hand at a low level in diamonds from unsuspecting and naive opponents. Therefore it is suggested (and still is) that since partner should have at least 3 hearts (for his TO dble) to immediately make a penalty double allowing partner to bid hearts for real (if he has a heart suit) as the auction gets higher.

Perhaps s. Jxxx, h. Ax, d. Axx, c. K10xx would be a classic 2 diamond cue bid in melody with the around the table bidding, alerting partner that this is our hand and to begin describing his hand, even with the minimum you expect him to have. If partner responds spades, I’ll boost him to game, otherwise 3NT looks to be a sound alternative when partner perhaps has. s. 10xx, h. Kxx, d. Kx, C, AQ10xx but if partner holds instead, s. KQx, h. Jxxx, d. void
c. AQ9xxx partner should respond conservatively in clubs, but keep on bidding them until we get the idea that a club contract (here game) seems best.

If partner just jumps to 3NT we need to let him play it since he figures to have at least 2 good diamond stops (at least on paper) and also (most important to me) with my agenda.

For all public statements the hands always represent the bidding I suggest. If only it was so at the table.

slarOctober 17th, 2015 at 6:20 pm

Along these lines, I got into a weird position last week. I had AKJT/-/xxxx/Axxxx and opened 1C in 4th position. LHO passes, partner bids 1H, and RHO overcalls 1S. In real life I bid 1NT which was safe (+120) but had little upside. RHO and partner both had xxxx in spades. The psyche backfired as our counterparts got blown up in 4S but I was disappointed that we couldn’t come up with a better score. I guess I needed to pass (in tempo!) and hope that partner could reopen with a double so that I can “do something intelligent”.