Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, October 9th, 2015

As far as it’s ideal that you get helped by people, it doesn’t mean they are compelled to make your dreams come true without your efforts.

Israelmore Ayivor

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


Benedicte Cronier and Sylvie Willard of France are generally ranked as one of the world’s top women pairs – and they are also charming partners and teammates.

In the most recent world championships where duplicated boards were in use Willard outplayed most of the declarers (male and female) in her seat.

She declared six clubs on a top diamond lead. She won in dummy and tried the club ace, believing her RHO’s play of the club queen. So she played the spade ace and ruffed a spade, crossed to the diamond king and ruffed another spade, (West missing her chance by following low at every turn). Then declarer tried two top hearts, and when East also fell from grace by failing to drop one of the heart jack or 10 under the king, Willard decided the suit was not breaking.

She ruffed her diamond winner to dummy, then judged perfectly to ruff a spade to hand and exit in hearts. This forced West to ruff and lead away from her trump trick. Plus 1370 meant Willard was the only declarer to make her slam in the McConnell Cup.

As indicated above, West could surely have made Willard’s life far harder by dropping the spade king on the third round of spades. Now declarer would surely have played for hearts to break, allowing West to ruff in while she could still exit with the fourth spade, defeating the slam.

Just for the record: at least two tables in the open event played partscore here with the NorthSouth cards, picking up a very undeserving swing.

Is this last call natural or a cuebid supporting hearts? Opinions vary – and it is far more important to reach agreement with your partner than with me. I vote for cuebid, but you don’t have to commit yourself – bid four diamonds as a repeat cuebid and see what happens next.


♠ A Q J 6 2
 Q 9 6 4
 A K
♣ A 4
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT 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


Iain ClimieOctober 23rd, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Hi Bobby,

Unbelievable though it may be that two strong pairs could play today’s hand in part scores, I can see one possible mixup and how this could happen. 1C P 1S P 2C P 2H – old fashioned Acol treated this as non-forcing (but encouraging) although the more modern Acol approach is that it is a one round force (aka 3rd suit forcing). Responder can pass 3C if unsuitable. If South thought 2H was NF and North thought otherwise, I can see this happening. Even so…

Have you got any more info on the bidding involved? Halloween is near, so a horror story is appropriate. You may wish not to provide names, though.



Bill CubleyOctober 23rd, 2015 at 1:52 pm

I have always thought that scores of 230, 240 show a serious lack of bidding skills. My favorite result from the Seattle NA Swiss was +1660 compared to -170. I admittedly overbid but considered I was providing 6 tricks plus 2 ruffs and only asking the strong hand for 4 tricks was worth it.

S T9x H T9xx D — C AKJT98
Our auction went 1NT – 2C – 2H – 6H after a slight pause. Alas we did not make the cut based on the final match loss.

bobby wolffOctober 23rd, 2015 at 3:06 pm

Hi Iain,

The experience of running a bridge club, especially with all types of levels competing against each other, will open eyes as to what may happen if players are left to their own versions of our great game. I also have a story about it, but it will have to wait, since I am currently playing in the ongoing Las Vegas Sectional currently underway.

I, however, would like to add to the legend of
Benedicte Cronier and Sylvie Willard of France by suggesting what wonderful images the both of them together, wield for our wonderful game.

Whether it is talent, card sense, partnership, grace under pressure, or just sheer results
I think them capable of, at the very least, holding their own against anyone thrown their way at the bridge table.

Furthermore, regardless of one’s nationality, I find it impossible to not root for them where ever they may roam.

Thanks for your always very interesting thoughts about how is it possible to not at least reach game on today’s NS collection.

“Seek and ye shall find”!

bobby wolffOctober 23rd, 2015 at 3:17 pm

Hi Bill,

While your +1660 in 6 hearts while vulnerable, bid and making is indeed impressive, your partner may have had: s. QJx, Jxxx, d. AKQJ, c. Qx where the opponent’s double may have achieved slightly better results, down 4 (-1100) but perhaps down 5 (-1400) if they could find their spade ruff.

Is bridge a great game, or what? And, no I was not suggesting that you pass 1NT with your collection in order to score up the par result of +120. Or am I?

ALEDBOOctober 23rd, 2015 at 8:22 pm

In today’s hand, was South’s forth bid 4H?

bobby wolffOctober 24th, 2015 at 2:24 am

Hi Aledbo.

Yes South’s 4th bid was 4 hearts, not 3. Another Gremlin attack!


Lee McGovernOctober 24th, 2015 at 8:20 am

So why are there seperate women’s world championships?

bobby wolffOctober 25th, 2015 at 5:02 am

Hi Lee,

Because the women want it that way. I was in Venice, Italy when the Venice Cup was originated in 1974, between the USA & Europe and Edgar Kaplan, while talking to me, made a very profound statement, which to this day, 41 years later rings sadly true. “The women got it the way they wanted, their own World Bridge Championship, and the truly terrible thing which will happen, the women themselves will never break the glass curtain which will always keep them from having enough experience against the world’s best players and also relatively soon, to get to the same level the men have achieved”.

At least to me there is not a reason any thinking and qualified bridge player can give to explain why the best women players do not play at an equal level to the best men. But they don’t (or, at least not more than a very few come close), because of what Edgar so deftly made public. Not enough repetitions! It is doubtful that the curse will ever be lifted.