Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Lost time is never found again.

Benjamin Franklin

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


In the round of 32 knock-out phase of the mixed teams at Sanya the easiest winners were Moss, who ended up winning by 100 IMPs — despite conceding an 1100 penalty on the very first deal, just to make it more interesting. This was the second deal.

Where Sylvia Moss and Michael Seamon were East-West, a quiet one heart opening by West saw their opponents collect plus 150 in three clubs. Moss’ teammate Kerri Sanborn found herself in four spades after her opponents as West bid much more aggressively. Curiously, though nobody defended four hearts doubled here, quite a few pairs were caught in three hearts when North guessed well to pass out South’s balancing take-out double.

So how should Sanborn have played four spades on repeated heart leads? It is best to ruff, cross to a top club in dummy and ruff another heart. East can do no better than pitch a diamond, so you unblock your trump honors from hand, cross to a second club in dummy, and draw a third round of trump, leaving East with the master spade and winning club. When you play a third club, East is on lead. If he cashes his master trump, you pitch diamonds from both hands, and claim the balance.

He does much better to shift to a diamond, but whether he leads a high one or low one, your diamond 10 is enough to ensure you three diamond tricks as the cards lie.

You end up scoring two ruffs and three trumps, and five tricks in the minors, one way or another.

Since two diamonds by your partner would set up a force, three diamonds should specifically be short diamonds (singleton or void). Obviously three no-trump is no longer in the picture as a final contract; with three-card heart support, raise hearts now, and take it from there. You have a superb hand for slam if partner tries to encourage you to cooperate.


♠ K 5 3
 10 4 3
 A 8 7
♣ A K 10 7
South West North East
1 ♣ 1 1 Pass
1 NT Pass 3 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


jim2October 22nd, 2015 at 12:43 pm

I inferred from the wording of the column text that Ms. Sanborn did not play 4S as described. What line did she take?

On BWTA, what would 4D have meant (instead of 3D)?

bobby wolffOctober 22nd, 2015 at 1:49 pm

Hi Jim2,

Well surmised, but likely a different way, and was either gifted by poor defense or perish the thought, went set. In any event I do not know.

The 4 diamond bid with the BWTA (instead of only 3, should unequivocally show a void) which is not always available if, by doing so, takes that partnership past a perceived safety level. This above description would then narrow the strains to either hearts or clubs so that either, s. AQxx, h. KQJ9xx, d. void, c. QJx
or s. AQx, h. AKxxx, d. void, c. QJxxx would suffice with the idea of getting to 6 hearts and, of course, 6 clubs, but if partner held the queen of hearts instead of the ace of diamonds then the club grand slam should then be eventually bid. Also then the opening bidder only having 2 small hearts would normally allow the club grand slam to also be bid and made as long as the club support is mammoth.

Overall then, with a giant club fit, the opening bidder’s then preference to 3 hearts hurts prospects more than it helps, making holding the queen critical to an extra trick.

It also shows how an original jump shift to 2 hearts would sometimes make it easier to arrive at the best contract, but in my example hand KQJ9xx is probably not quite good enough to overcome a singleton in the opener’s hand

When available, that choice is often critical in helping partnerships bid difficult lay down slams, both small and grand.

jim2October 22nd, 2015 at 3:15 pm

Fair enough. Now, what would 4D mean by South (instead of 3H)?

bobby wolffOctober 23rd, 2015 at 2:36 am

Hi Jim2,

Simply a maximum for his previous bidding, plus the ace of diamonds, and of course 3 card heart support.

jim2October 23rd, 2015 at 2:08 pm

Since the 1N rebid showed a hand under a 1N opener, and with three hearts and the AD, why was the BWTA answer not 4D?