Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, December 7th, 2015

Nature’s own nobleman, friendly and frank,
Is a man with his heart in his hand!

Martin Tupper

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


One of my good writing and bridge-playing friends is Frank Stewart. Frank has been writing books regularly over the last decade, and donating the profits to local causes. His most recent project, “Play Bridge with Me,” is available from the writer $23.95 postpaid to the US (signed on request) from PO Box 962 Fayette AL 35555.

This week’s deals come from his book. Here Stewart hears his partner open one club in fourth chair and raise his response of one spade to two. Stewart now sensibly up-values his five-card suit and red-suit controls, and drives directly to game.

On the lead of the heart jack North puts down a 15-count that some would have opened a strong no-trump. Not surprisingly, the contract is excellent, but there is a possible loser in each suit. If the defenders get in, they will lead a second heart, setting up a winner, so it is imperative to establish a discard for the heart loser quickly. Stewart leads a diamond at the second trick, and when West plays low, Stewart observes that if either black-suit finesse wins he will be home.

But given that East didn’t open the bidding and has the heart queen, the right play from dummy must be the king. If East has the ace, declarer will not have a heart discard, but now one of the black-suit finesses will be sure to win, since East would probably have been in the bidding with such a good hand. So playing the diamond king means declarer will make four spades whatever the lie of the cards.

When leading at suits into a strong hand, you must often choose between active, passive, or playing for a ruff. My computer buffs tell me: when in doubt, lead from a sequence or play for a ruff. So a club would be last on my list. With a possible trump trick, I feel a diamond is more likely to be effective than a spade.


♠ 6 5
 Q 6 3
 10 9 3
♣ Q 9 5 3 2
South West North East
  Pass Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 ♣ Pass 3
Pass 4 All 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


slarDecember 21st, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Is underbidding here a sound strategy here or was it just done to make the column work? I have been known to downgrade 15HCP hands with 4-3-3-3 distribution but the AJ97 in spades looked a little too good to downgrade. Move the SA to hearts and I would downgrade.

I assume opener would drop responder in 1S without any kind of extras.

Meanwhile my New Year’s Resolution is to stop looking at my own cards and start looking at everyone else’s. Figuratively of course! You and Mr. Stewart have helped me in this area but this still appears to be the weakest link in my game.

bobby wolffDecember 21st, 2015 at 6:48 pm

Hi Slar,
Sure we use certain gimmicks, as you describe, as underbidding or overbidding, to right side the declarer or make for a believable bidding sequence in order for what we rationalize as the "greater good".
In no way do we (I) endorse some of the specific bids made in only one column, and it would be helpful to your bridge learning to separate those times and only concentrate on the lesson intended.
Also the bridge imagination to which you refer is integral in ascending the "up" elevator we all aspire to in improving our play. The fact that you describe it as looking at other players hands (figuratively) is the beginning of the process necessary to head toward bridge nirvana by applying fundamental high-level bridge logic to every hand that you play.
You seem to be on track, but don't ever relax, because by doing so, many get derailed, never to recover. I can only attest to it getting easier after passing the original early tests.

Iain ClimieDecember 21st, 2015 at 8:51 pm

Hi Slar, Bobby,

Let’s not knock North. If he opens 1N, south transfers and North plays 4S with east almost certainly leading a diamond. Then the instructional point disappears. The hand is a good one so it doesn’t matter too much if the bidding has been slightly tweaked. I’ll look out for Frank Stewart’s work.



bobby wolffDecember 21st, 2015 at 9:03 pm

Hi Iain,

Amen, my friend, the truth is where you find it.

These days, rare, and bridge being the difficult game it is, we just need to accept little stretches in order to get the big picture. Or so it seems!

Thanks for the back up and I suspect Slar will definitely understand.

John StoreyDecember 21st, 2015 at 10:05 pm

Hi Bobby – the “subscribe to our bridge links” button is still not working.

I get this:

Server not found

Firefox can’t find the server at

Thanks, John

bobby wolffDecember 21st, 2015 at 11:36 pm

Hi John,

You possibly cannot read this, but I wrote to our computer man at our home site and he will either fix it or, at the very least, show you what to do.

Sorry for the inconvenience and looking forward to hearing thumbs up from you.

In the meantime, happy and healthy holidays to you and your family,


JRGDecember 22nd, 2015 at 1:15 am

Hi John,

We recently had to make extensive changes because the Yahoo! Pipes facility was shut down. Until I can fix the problem with individual blog sites we host, you can use the following link to subscribe to The Aces On Bridge blog:

Sorry for the inconvenience,
John Goold

JRGDecember 22nd, 2015 at 1:43 am

Hi John, Bobby.

I’ve fixed the RSS feeds links so it works for all our blogs, not just The Aces on Bridge.

Thanks for pointing out this problem.

John Goold

bobby wolffDecember 22nd, 2015 at 5:24 am

Hi John,

And thank you for protecting us. BTW, you must be the best safety play ever connected to the bridge world since. you have never failed to fix either a problem or even just a request, we made.

Ultimate is a word which comes to mind when thinking of you.

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 22nd, 2015 at 3:41 pm

Bobby, DITTO,