Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Honest bread is very well – it’s the butter that makes the temptation.

Douglas Jerrold

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


In today’s auction, when South bids clubs then shows spades, North can bid two diamonds, the fourth suit setting up a game force. South’s non-committal call of two notrump is the least lie, suggesting a minimum balanced hand with a diamond stopper – not far from the truth, though a raise to three diamonds might also show this hand.

When North sets spades as trump South contents himself with a simple raise to game to conclude the auction, and West’s trump lead is best for the defense.

South can try to establish one trick in hearts, one in diamonds, and two in clubs. He therefore needs six trump tricks to make the contract. South can make six trump tricks by ruffing twice in the dummy and making his own four trumps, or by ruffing twice in his own hand and then making dummy’s four trump. Either method will work, provided only that South doesn’t draw more than two rounds of trump in total.

South must cash his winning cards in the side suits first, and he also needs to set up a heart trick as part of the plan. Hence, he wins the first trump in his own hand and leads a heart at once.

West wins with the heart ace and leads a second trump. South must not draw any more trump or allow the enemy to draw more trump. So he cashes his top heart, then his minor-suit aces and kings. Now he can ruff diamonds in the dummy and hearts in his own hand to bring in the required total of 10 tricks.

Not all eight-counts are worth an invitational call facing an opening bid of one no-trump. However, this one is not only worth an invitation, I’d be inclined to transfer, then drive to three notrump, especially at teams, to let my partner choose between games. It isn’t just the heart intermediates, it is the fact that you have a likely re-entry to reach your winners, even facing a doubleton heart.


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


jim2April 19th, 2016 at 11:09 am

It would appear that BWTA does not use Forcing Stayman.

slarApril 19th, 2016 at 1:46 pm

How common is Forcing Stayman in the wild? I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen it.

bobbywolffApril 19th, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Hi Jim2 & Slar,

No, BWTA does not include either forcing Stayman nor 2 way Stayman in their every man’s bidding system.

And that fact then leads to what most tournament players play as their standard system. Presto, that is the magical reason why our column features such a thing, keeping in mind that I seriously think that 2 way Stayman offers the most for that area of bidding and by, please forgive, a significant margin.

While I do not pretend to have done the most research on such a declaration, but I can attest to 60+ years of playing, feeling and analyzing.

And Slar, I think forcing Stayman (meaning after bidding 2 clubs over partner’s opening NT, having him respond either 2 diamonds or 2 hearts, then rebidding 2 spades or even 2 hearts over 2 diamonds , forcing Stayman makes that bid forcing while not-playing it, makes it eminently passable) has vanished, along with the morning milk delivery.

Peter PengApril 19th, 2016 at 7:03 pm

hi Bobby

Four comments/questions=

1. how do I apply for a question to go on one of the Sunday lists?

2. yesterday I was playing with a new partner and I agreed to play DONT against 1NT

well I picked up a ~20 HCP hand, 4-3-3-3

and did not know how to bid it. Since in DONT a double shows a single suit, I thought I had to pass.

3. playing with a first time partner, against NT declarer, I had AKJ5 of spades, and AKQ2 of hearts.

I led the hearts and they broke 3-3-3, so I cashed the 2. Partner discarded the 2 of Spades. I thought that showed a suit preference for clubs. It did not.

Well it was not a good board.

4. Opening third hand a weak 10 hcp hand, 1D, I thought about some bid by a passed first seat partner that could be analogous to a Drury bid, but in a minor opener. Is there any sequence I should study?

thanks a lot, thanks for your help

Iain ClimieApril 19th, 2016 at 9:55 pm

Hi Bobby, Slar,

Surely the answer to Slar’s question is that bridge bids and conventions aren’t found in the wild as bridge players like central heating, air-conditioning and avoidance of wind & rain. That ultra cynic P J O’ Rourke once suggested that people don’t want to get back to nature no matter what they claimed. He suggested stripping naked then rolling around in the countryside or even a lawn. The next guaranteed feeling would be severe itching!



bobbywolffApril 20th, 2016 at 12:37 pm

Hi Peter,

Sorry for the delay in answering this, but my dentist interrupted my preferred schedule. Ouch!

1. Please send your question to, but be prepared for at least a small edit, to both fit our space and/or help clarify to our readers.

2. Yes, with the convention DONT, a convention to combat the opponent’s opening 1NT, the absence of a penalty double available can be a significant weakness, whose name may suggest whether you should adopt it or not.

3. A small card, deuce, meant as a signal in a standard bridge partnership does NOT show suit preference, but rather only a dislike of the suit shown (in this case, spades). Since you had such an overpowering defensive hand (20 hcps), partner had to obviously be as light as a June mist, forcing you to help determine the best defense, knowing how little he held, but still defend based on what you thought was the original overall distribution.

There are often clues to that fact, but not being at the table, nor knowing what your entire exact hand held, makes it more than difficult for me to suggest what those clues may indicate.

No doubt bridge is a game featuring bridge numeracy, but with many defensive hands, valid imagination needs to be the key ingredient of the mind du jour.

4. No, there is not any specific convention, to which I have knowledge, designed to artificially find minor suit fits after a 3rd hand opening bid of a one of a minor. Perhaps your inquisitive
bridge thoughts can invent a method, but I will not suggest that you spend much time attempting it.

Bridge bidding has always been evolved since its inception (1927) with only bridge logic, which, in turn, has been specifically directed to use the limited language (bidding) in a maximum way to convey what is thought to be the most critical information available and thus necessary to transmit between each partner.

Meanwhile it has taken almost 90 years, as of now, to find out, and most of that the result of experimentation rather than certainty. No doubt the vagaries of our beloved game mixed in with the specific scoring system used, have combined to make its task both onerous and complicated.

However, while searching for those answers, an aspiring and dedicated player (always with the help of some natural talent) will almost automatically fall in love with that challenge.

Good luck to you, if you desire to accept those conditions, which from your letters indicate that you do.

bobbywolffApril 20th, 2016 at 12:55 pm

Hi Iain,

No doubt your notable friend, P.J. O’Rourke likely answered for many of us about reverting back to nature and as “Kramer” (of Seinfeld fame) may have noted, going Commando, not necessarily naked but instead sans underwear.

Since your post, I was itching to tell you my experience, but have decided not to.

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