Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, November 19th, 2015

[Man] Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise and rudely great.

Alexander Pope

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


The Dyspeptics Club is a place where the kibitzers come as much for the post mortem as they do to watch the bridge. Zero Tolerance is not part of the club’s bylaws, and while the members draw the line at physical violence, verbal outrages are considered the norm, and some would say, positively encouraged.

In today’s deal South played four hearts by winning the top spade lead in hand, drawing trump, then playing the club ace, king and a third club. West had supinely failed to unblock his club queen on the second round of the suit, so he was forced to give the lead to dummy and declarer had 10 tricks.

As South waited for applause from his partner, and East gnashed his teeth at his partner’s incompetence, North wryly remarked that if South was half as good as he thought he was, he would still be twice as good as he actually was. Why was he unhappy with his partner?

Declarer must duck the spade queen; he wins the next one with the ace, cashes the club ace and king, throws a club on the spade king, then ruffs the clubs good. Next he draws three rounds of trump ending in dummy, so that he can cash the established club as his 10th trick.

Incidentally, if West has a 3-3-5-2 shape with all the high diamond honors, declarer might still succeed. He strips out all West’s black cards and after drawing trump leads a low diamond, to endplay West to lead a diamond round to the king.

My general advice is to raise one heart to two with a 10-count and a balanced hand with no source of tricks (which is constructive in the context of a forcing no-trump base). This hand is one of the rare exceptions where your good trump spots and excellent controls mean that even with a 4-3-3-3 pattern, you could sensibly choose between either the simple raise or the limit raise, via the forcing no-trump.


♠ K 5 2
 K 10 9
 9 6 3
♣ A 7 5 4
South West North East
  Pass 1 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


Joe1December 3rd, 2015 at 11:43 pm

Why does S start with double? Off-shape for this? Looks to me like a strait-forward one heart. Thanks for your always helpful lesson, and for being a happy part of my day

Bobby WolffDecember 4th, 2015 at 12:04 am

Hi Joe1,

Well today will be no different, and that is without either minor suit king, South should bid a straight-forward 1 heart, but since his hand is considerably better by holding that pair of monarchs, he should first double and then over partner’s response of either 1 spade, 1NT or 2 clubs then bid 2 hearts to show a much better hand and at least 5+ reasonably good hearts.

Doubling first is an oft used maneuver to both show a better hand and then when a suit is then independently bid after partner’s response it shows 5+ in number.

If partner, instead responds 1 heart, then South should first cue bid 2 diamonds (one round force) and then return to hearts over partner’s next bid. That, then shows a good hand, and is certainly game invitational to partner in hearts.

Now it is up to you to take that lesson in showing valuation and run around the bases with it to many bridge victories. That in turn will insure a happily ever after, ending.

And in case you are still interested, doubling first and then bidding a new suit shows about 16+ and a good enough suit (5+).

Finally, if partner merely returns to 2 hearts, then simply pass since partner is crying out weakness (0-5) and will expect you to honor his plight. He may have only 4 hearts as well as your cue bid usually will imply good heart support, but if he has a great hand but other suits he will then bid one of them, allowing you to then exercise your judgment.

Indeed, good bridge is definitely a partnership game and your learned knowledge will make you a winning partner, or so it says here.