Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 15th, 2015

If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.

G. B. Shaw

E North
None ♠ K 10 4
 A K 7
 8 3
♣ J 10 6 5 2
West East
♠ Q 7
 Q J 4 3 2
 A Q 6
♣ Q 4 3
♠ 9 8 3
 10 9 6 5
 10 9 5 4 2
♣ 8
♠ A J 6 5 2
 K J 7
♣ A K 9 7
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 3 * Pass
4 ♠ All pass    

*Invitational spade raise with three trump


The three famous bridge players named Hackett, Paul and his sons Jason and Justin, have recently augmented to four. Barbara Stawowy, who has won World Championship Gold and Silver medals while playing for the German Women’s Team, is now married to Justin Hackett. Here, she is at work in the 2011 Women’s European Championships, held in Poznan, Poland.

As a note to the auction, North’s three diamond call showed 10-12 points, plus exactly three-card spade support. Hackett went straight to the spade game, and West led a heart. With possible losers in each black suit, declarer’s focus was to avoid a guess in the diamond suit.

She won the heart lead with dummy’s ace then led a low spade to her jack, finessing into the safe hand. West won with the queen and back came another heart, taken with the king in dummy, a diamond departing from South. After drawing the rest of the trump, ending in dummy, Hackett continued by taking her second black suit finesse, West capturing the club jack with the queen. But from that side of the table, no damage could be done, and eventually South could throw another diamond from the South hand on dummy‚Äôs fifth club. Just one further trick – a diamond – had to be lost.

Of course at double-dummy declarer can always do better, but only by endangering the contract against an unfavorable lie of the cards.

And just for the record, an argument could certainly be made for running the spade 10 from dummy at trick two.

Despite your own hand indicating otherwise, this double just shows real extras, and is not specifically for penalties. With a so far unshown four-card major, bid two hearts and try to look as cheerful as your miserable hand will permit you to do.


♠ 9 8 3
 10 9 6 5
 10 9 5 4 2
♣ 8
South West North East
  1 Dbl. 1 ♠
Pass 2 ♣ Dbl. 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


Mircea1October 29th, 2015 at 11:05 am

Hi Bobby,

Would you consider overcalling 2H with West’s hand in today’s column deal?

Bobby WolffOctober 29th, 2015 at 12:04 pm

Hi Mircea1,

I might consider it, but then reject that idea.

Too many soft values and especially poor heart spots. Give me the 109 and I just might.

Besides, there are just too many ladies present. Two or three are probably more than anyone, especially I, could handle. But four, not even 60 years ago and heaven forbid now. Are you kidding me?

However I love your spirited question.

jim2October 29th, 2015 at 1:24 pm

And all four are unmarried!

Bobby WolffOctober 29th, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Hi Jim2,

But NOT unloved, and to real men, hearts trump

Bill CubleyOctober 29th, 2015 at 4:18 pm

Your BWTA comment about not looking unhappy is very good. You might or might not have some hogh cards, but telling everyone at the table you are very weak really inspires defenses to take all of their tricks.

Bobby WolffOctober 29th, 2015 at 6:24 pm

Hi Bill,

Believe it or not, since partner figures to have 4+ of the unbid suit, hearts, I will bid 2 hearts and if partner raises me to 3 without being pushed, I’ll (wonder of wonders) accept.

Most everything in bridge bidding is relative and my dummy (in spite of the fact that in reality I may be declarer) should produce a few trump tricks, (ruffing clubs).

A good lesson in life is that when things get bad, almost always they can get worse, and my hand should, if anything because of 4 trumps and a crucial side singleton, be of enough value to not be pessimistic.

Of course, when one receives a gift of a load of manure, if he then runs to different spots looking for the Shetland Pony which goes with, he may be thought of as an optimist. In bridge it is better to hope for such things (except for, of course, Jim2, inside joke for new readers), than be victimized by the other extreme.

slarOctober 30th, 2015 at 12:21 am

Always be thankful when you have an excuse to enter the auction. You might even get to play the hand! So regarding Mircea1’s question, I would happily enter the auction in matchpoints (since competing for part-scores is paramount and hopefully the opponents will end up playing 3S) but in IMPs I would have to pass because we aren’t going anywhere near game with those scattered values opposite a passed hand.

Bobby WolffOctober 30th, 2015 at 3:58 am

Hi Slar,

Although slightly below standard for my tastes, I would never question someone else overcalling 2 hearts at matchpoints. What one gives up with safety they may or may not make up for it in strategy.

Always keep in mind that the opponents cannot see through the cards and know when to double and when not to. No doubt by immediately overcalling you are making it tougher for the opponents to easily buy the hand and defending 3 spades is always an advantage over defending just 2 spades.

Possibly early in a bridge curriculum the advantage of seeming to always be bidding will definitely have some tangible advantage.

Not that by doing so insures better overall results, but rather it turns hands where the opponents outweigh your side not only a few hcp advantage, but also having the master suit, spades into a not so easy situation of having to take nine tricks rather than eight.

You pays your money you takes your chances.