Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Love truth, but pardon error.


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


In today’s deal South’s two heart bid set up a one-round force but was not game-forcing. North had a relatively minimum balanced hand, but he was top of his range, even if his spade queen didn’t appear to be pulling its full weight. When he jumped to game, South decided that he would risk being off two club tricks, and rather than give information to the opponents, he simply jumped to slam.

When West’s low spade lead went to the queen, king and ace, South could see that his slam was no worse than taking two club finesses. However, he determined that the auction had significantly reduced the chances of this line succeeding. Accordingly, he decided to increase his chances by means of an endplay.

He unblocked the diamond ace, overtook the heart queen with the king, and cashed the two top diamonds, pitching spades, then ruffed a diamond to hand with the trump ace. Next he overtook the heart eight with the nine, ruffed dummy’s spade loser, and had reduced to a five-card ending with four clubs and a trump in hand, while dummy had three clubs and two trump. Even though West still had a trump left, declarer could lead a club to the 10 to leave East on play, and take the rest.

East could return a club, surrendering his side’s second trick in that suit, or if he preferred. he could switch to a spade. South would ruff that, pitching dummy’s losing club. He would then cross to dummy with the club ace to draw the last trump.

Your partner’s double is card-showing not penalty. You would normally only pass with two or more trump tricks, otherwise you would describe your hand further. Here you have an unbid four-card major, so you have a straightforward call of two hearts. Partner can bid on if he wants, but he knows you have both red suits and a minimum.


♠ Q 3
 K 9 7 3
 K Q 7 5
♣ A 10 6
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ 2 ♣
Pass Pass 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieFebruary 25th, 2016 at 10:28 pm

Hi Bobby,

Is South’s hand on BWTA today really a minimum? South’s pass of 2C is fair enough (is double, not support, an option) but South has SQx of patd’s suit, 4 good hearts and nothing wasted in clubs. If North holds (say) CJx(x) everything is working overtime.

Any thoughts here?



bobbywolffFebruary 25th, 2016 at 11:52 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, a few.

I think it proper to call the opening bidder’s hand a minimum, although after doing so and then partner invites game I would, because of the positive points you make, accept.

Sometimes a well timed pass will then allow better judgment in the further round(s) of bidding. However, to treat that balanced opening without three of partner’s suit or at least the jack of clubs instead of the wishful ten as anything but a minimum opening bid, is somewhat courting a down one result. Even with the stellar play we all know that you would give it.

However, if you have some clout with Mandrake the magician, I would then encourage you to keep on bidding and never stop until and unless someone has the nerve to double you.

At least one certain good feature to come from following my advice will be to keep partner from shaking like a leaf, if and when , he is dealt a very poor hand.

Mircea1February 26th, 2016 at 10:13 am

but partner has denied four cards in any of the red suits and also six cards in spades. His hand must be precisely 5=3=3=2 in shape and at least 11 hcp for this auction. With no fit and with the balance of power to us, isn’t there a case for pass? Further more, if my assumptions are correct, LoT is also on our side. Don’t know ’bout TOCM (R). All these apply to matchpoints, obviously.

bobbywolffFebruary 26th, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Hi Mircea,

While both your judgment and then reasoning are on target, there is an unseen disadvantage in converting a hoped for TO double into penalties. Sometimes the 2 club bidder has a very good distributional hand with long clubs and a side suit likely diamonds but could be spades, which could easily lead to his making at least 8 tricks and maybe even 9.

True, bridge is a percentage game and it is sometimes necessary to take chances rather than being too conservative. However, my experience when going for the throat (a way of describing always trying to double those opponents sometimes wily, other times, not so), is to put faith in your own bidding and card play and not usually relying on Dame Fortune who too often is fickle.

Again, while what you predict is both sophisticated and well within the ball park, but what the overcaller is dealt is random and not a way to tell. Add to that the blind nature of an opening lead, plus declaring being easier than perfect defense and, at least my experience is to fly to what is middle of the road, rather than a greater risk.

And by bidding, in this case 2 hearts (sometimes partner may have 5-4-3-1 but 4 very weak hearts), who knows the defense may bid more, certainly better at that point to not be defending 2 clubs doubled.

However, nothing I am saying is welded in stone and many very good players would also pass and take their chances.

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