Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, February 4th, 2016

I am the maker of my own fortune.


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


In today’s hand some of my readers may not look past the fact that they themselves would not bid to slam missing a cashing ace and the trump king, and not realize that it is not enough to be lucky. Sometimes one must also be good.

When the deal came up in the early stages of a national championships, the expert team who held the North-South cards stopped in five hearts after a keycard auction.

However the less-favored team bid to slam on the auction shown, when South either thought it would be beneath his dignity to ask for aces, or decided to play for a swing.

The opening lead was the spade queen, ducked all round. The spade jack was covered by dummy’s king, and South demonstrated that his team was not just present to make up the numbers when he ruffed with the heart queen. Then he led a diamond to the ace, ran the heart eight successfully, and followed up with the heart 10, underplaying this with his nine. Now it was a simple matter to repeat the heart finesse and draw trump. Declarer could dispose of his fourth-round diamond loser on dummy’s clubs, and waltz home with 12 tricks.

Note that if declarer ruffs the spade with either a low trump or with the nine, he can no longer cope nearly so easily with the 4-1 trump break. The contract will come down to needing clubs or diamonds to split 3-3, since declarer will have to burn an entry to dummy to repeat the heart finesse.

Where you have a weak hand with a long suit you may have a difficult problem as to whether to bid initially, and at what level. Here I would risk a bid of three spades, intending it as preemptive, both to make the opponents’ life harder and to plan a possible sacrifice. With a strong hand I would start with a twoclub cuebid, so partner should not assume my hand is strong.


♠ Q J 10 4 3 2
 9 8
♣ 10 8 7 6
South West North East
Pass 1 ♣ Dbl. 1

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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Patrick CheuFebruary 18th, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Hi Bobby,In the Epilogue of Better Bridge for the Advancing Player by Frank Stewart(1984),’You get lucky,and you win.Maybe a finesse works for you.If the next one loses,you lose along with it.Life can be a finesse.’ This hand highlights that nicely,don’t you think? regards~Patrick.

bobby wolffFebruary 18th, 2016 at 2:22 pm

Hi Patrick,

Well said and, of course the result manifests what you suggest about, life not only can be a finesse, and often is, but combined with Kipling’s “If” in order to be a grown-up (man in his specific case) one must learn to deal with both victory and bouncing back after a defeat.

BTW, it also helps not to get careless, and to ruff that second spade with a higher trump!

Thanks for your ever present optimism.

Jane AFebruary 18th, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Hi Bobby,

I understand your point of view with bidding three spades with the BWTA hand. With my partners, a jump in the bidding shows eight or more points, so not an option for me. I would certainly bid two spades however, and probably bid them again if necessary. Partner then knows I am weak but have long spades and more than likely shortness in one of the opponent’s suits. What say you to this approach? I know it is popular to jam the bidding, especially with the boss suit, but this can be achieved with slow arrival also, right?

Bill CubleyFebruary 18th, 2016 at 3:26 pm

Perhaps the quote should be the classic “Bid Better, Play Better” as the great Dorothy Truscott wrote.

jim2February 18th, 2016 at 4:00 pm

We were playing the Slobbovian Club system when this came up in the Slush Open Pairs.

Partner opened 1C, the strong bid, and West made a weak jump overcall in spades. I was forced by system to bid notrump and seconds later found myself in 6N.

East, on lead, knew I had the KS. Fearful of giving me the 12th trick by leading spades, he led a minor suit.

Picking up the hearts (fortunately the KH was not singleton offside THIS time) was a LOT easier in notrump. As an unexpected bonus, I had a simple squeeze on East for 13 tricks.

So where was the TOCM ™? Turned out, the overtrick was worthless as just 6N making would have been the same 10 out of 12 matchpoints. Top went to the two pairs who had made 6H doubled!

bobby wolffFebruary 18th, 2016 at 6:59 pm

Hi Jane A,

A double jump response to a TO double is similar to a double jump opening bid, preemptive in nature. It shows a long suit, but denies many high cards.

A major difference is that when partner makes a TO double of a minor suit he more or less guarantees support for both majors (at least three of them) and therefore allows a double jump, (to the three level), to mean length but not strength. A single jump to 2 of a major should show about 10 HCPs, while not forcing, but invitational to game.

Tell your partners that bridge bidding has gone forward and is now being played by “Thoroughly Modern Millies” instead of “Usually Unknowing Uglies”. Also if the jump is double it only means trouble (for the opponents). Slow doesn’t get there in time.

bobby wolffFebruary 18th, 2016 at 7:01 pm

Hi Bill,

To take it a little slower, Dorothy should have been satisfied with only one or the other. “Crawl before you walk”.

bobby wolffFebruary 18th, 2016 at 7:14 pm

Hi Jim2,

And although it was Lena (the Hyena) you squeezed, that ultimate sensation was sadly balanced by the realization that TOCM TM had progressed to even knowing the unplayed results ahead of time in order to make sure the victim never benefits from anything slushed at the table.

The above has the ability to make the first great horror bridge movie, but congratulations to you for proper execution (double entendre).

Jane AFebruary 18th, 2016 at 11:56 pm

A double jump response- of course. I completely missed that. I honestly would not have thought of that but it makes sense. Thanks! Will add this to my systems.

bobby wolffFebruary 19th, 2016 at 12:11 am

Hi Jane A,

You need not do that since you are already tough enough. Never show them more than you have to.

MaryellenFebruary 22nd, 2016 at 12:38 pm

Everything iss very open wifh a precise explanation of tthe
challenges.It was really informative. Your website is vewry useful.
Thank yoou for sharing!

bundapokerFebruary 22nd, 2016 at 5:21 pm

I do not know if it’s just me or if everyone else
experiencing problems with your site. It seems like some of the written text
in your content are running off the screen. Can someone else please provide
feedback and let me know if this is happening to them too?
This could be a issue with my browser because I’ve had this happen before.