Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.

Mae West

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


The surprise result of the 2011 European Open Championships was the capture of the Gold Medal in the Women’s Teams by the Turkish team. They beat a tough French squad in the semi-finals and a very distinguished Netherlands team in the finals.

This hand is from the finals of that event, demonstrating that preempting is a two-edged sword. In both rooms South opened one heart. Bep Vriend for the Netherlands had an uninterrupted passage to four hearts. West cashed the club ace and declarer ruffed the club continuation. With only a slight clue that anything might be amiss, Vriend made the natural play of the heart ace from hand, and that left her with two inevitable trump losers. Needing to set up spades, South tried a spade to the 10, and when this lost to the queen she could not avoid going one down.

In the second room West overcalled South’s one heart opener with three clubs. North bid four hearts, and the lead and continuation duplicated the action from the other table. On ruffing the second club, Dilek Yavas knew enough from the auction to start trump by leading a heart to the king, then continued with the spade jack, which held. A spade to the ace was followed by a third spade. East ruffed and returned the diamond ace, trumped in dummy. Now, using spades in the manner of a second trump suit, Yavas played on that suit, and East could come to just one further trick, the heart queen. Game made.

There is no good answer here. If you pass you may defend when your side can make game in a major. If you bid, and partner repeats his diamonds, then you will wish you had kept silent. My vote is for the pessimistic pass. Partner will re-open with short clubs, and you can re-assess the position. If partner passes with club length, you may have missed nothing.


♠ K J 10 8 3
 K J 9 5
♣ 8 7 4 2
South West North East
    1 3 ♣

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 27th, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Hi Bobby,
It is always easy with hindsight but I still think Bep Vriend should have smelt a rat here. When the CAK drop the Queen, the clubs seem to be 6-2, while 2-2 hearts make the hand trivial. If they're, cashing 2 hearts then finessing the spade into the hand without the long trump works unless spades break 5-0 (or perhapps the odd 4-1 break) so only 4-0 trumps are really a concern. In that case, west is surely the player likely to have the void, so the Turkish declarer's line seems clear.
Seeing all 52 cards, and not being under pressure at the table do make life easier of course, and I have no illusions that I'm anywhere near Ms. Vriend's class as a player. Victor Mollo's lovely line on theoreticians (players who know exactly the right bid or play 10 seconds after making a different one) is all too applicable. In similar vein, you can guarantee that many partners will agree with whichever chosen bid (or pass) works on BWTA today.

Bobby WolffOctober 27th, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, no doubt, everyone wants first to win, and then second, to be blameless when not.

When to be successful teams form, one of the philosophical necessities is not to be an above culprit, but rather a player who either effortlessly takes on blame, or, the other extreme, remains silent and when and if others bring up the subject, hastily changes it.

If the above sounds like a perfect family member, it is, but even more importantly, if criticism happens then, an individual can seek other friendships, but with bridge, it sometimes becomes more difficult and has further much longer complications.

Turning to today’s hand, in the first example it is indeed possible that East had up to 5 clubs (Q109xx) when she played the queen at trick 2 and although in a friendly game that is not usually the case, sometimes a clever defender will try to disrupt declarer’s clear thinking with a falsecard.

However at the table I would never bet against you feeling the correct vibes at the table and then using them to your advantage.

jim2October 27th, 2015 at 8:39 pm

In BWTA, I would make a negative double and would bid 3S over 3D. Pard will be short in clubs, so this should play well in either major.

Sure, TOCM ™ will make pard 1-3-7-2, but so what? 🙂

Bobby WolffOctober 28th, 2015 at 1:40 am

Hi Jim2,

I agree with you, at the very least, as a tiebreaker.

slarOctober 28th, 2015 at 11:07 pm

No, partner will have East’s hand but you’ll be stuck with a 5-0 trump split. Are you ready for it?