Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Oh to be in England, now that April’s here.

Robert Browning

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



In today’s deal from the Yeh Bros tournament, we see the eventual winner of the Pairs tournament in action. Michael Byrne of England, playing with Mike Bell, reached four hearts on an unopposed auction after opening the South hand a 14+-17 notrump.

Had the defenders led and continued spades, East overtaking at trick one to play the spade jack, then shifting to a club, when left on lead, East would likely have fallen victim to a squeeze in the minors.

But West led his club king to trick one. Byrne won and drew trump, then led a spade from dummy. East flew up with the ace and returned the suit, West overtaking to play a third spade and declarer was forced to ruff. East, who had discarded a diamond on the third trump, now pitched another diamond. In the six-card ending, he was down to three diamonds and three clubs.

Declarer, who had lost two tricks up until now, played three rounds of diamonds ruffing in dummy, then exited from the board with a low club to force East to win and lead into the club tenace at trick 12.

As a side issue, I was pleased to see Michael Byrne doing so well as a player. He has been in the forefront of coaching and captaining the England Juniors over the last decade. But he has also had considerable success as a player, and won the Brighton Swiss Pairs, England’s largest pair event last summer, to cap off an excellent year for him.

With a combined maximum of eight trump between you and your partner, I don’t see that you are obliged to compete further. You certainly cannot double two spades, so pass in good tempo and hope partner can bid on with extra offence.


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

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


Jim GrayApril 27th, 2016 at 7:21 pm

In a matchpoint game I recently held x AQJX AKTxxxx A. I opened 1 Diamond, got a 1Heart response from partner, checked for key cards and bid 7 Hearts when my partner showed two. It made easily. Later I found that only one other pair bid the grand slam, apparently because most opened 2 clubs and could not find the 4-4 heart fit. Was I lucky, or is better not to open 2 clubs on such a hand? I ask because I am not sure when to open 2 clubs and when not. Have you some guidance here?

bobby wolffApril 27th, 2016 at 9:10 pm

Hi Jim,

On the TV screens here in Las Vegas, Kay Jewelers has a promotion which emphasizes "It always begins with Kay" meaning romance.

Well the decision to open either one of a suit or an artificial almost forcing to game 2 clubs, is based on:

1. Numbers of HCPs which with 21+ becomes dangerous not to (with, of course an opening 2NT sometimes an exception) since with that many HCP's partner is less likely to respond and instead pass.

2. However with your hand only having 18 HCPs it is less dangerous and the lower level an opening bidder starts with (one level) the more likely the eventual right contract will be the result

3. You are right on in describing why the field didn't necessarily reach the heart grand slam so using that experience as a guide, I agree with your simple 1 diamond opening.

4. Also remember that even if partner passes your RHO or possibly LHO before him has kept the bidding open for you.

5. Advantage your side since when the bidding gets higher the opponents may not realize that you are as strong as you are and thus do the wrong thing at the death.

6. Other than the above there is little else to worry about except to bid your hand (rebid diamonds and then conceivably branch off into hearts and let nature take its course.

7. Partner, up to then very quiet, should then appreciate any positive feature of his hand, red suit length or at least semi, and be heard from, keeping mind the most important caveat (at least IMO) that no bridge hand is either good or bad, it is only in relation to the previous bidding should it be so judged.

Good luck and let us continue to hear from you.

Iain ClimieApril 28th, 2016 at 7:54 am

Hi Bobby,

On BWTA is dbl really so bad as 3D, 3H or 3C could be on, assuming that the dbl shows values. Also, how is the spade suit disribited? It seems unlikely that either oppo has 5 and could it even be 4-3-3-3 round the table.

Regarding the quote – I am, and it is damp and unseasonally cold!



bobby wolffApril 28th, 2016 at 2:11 pm

Hi Iain,
No doubt, if this one hand was the determining factor of say the future of bridge and all that it brings, yes, likely a simple double, primarily penalty but subject to being overruled would best describe its very essence.
However, who am I to attach such importance to just another bridge hand? Therefore, taking a middle ground and allowing partner to judge what to do, even though I agree 100% with your assessment that 8 tricks will not be present for those aggressive opponents against what I would hope to contribute with my partner and present accurate defense.
Therefore the scoring system of our challenging game does not lend itself to attempted perfection with close part score hands. Result, being stolen from and only scoring down 1 undoubled instead of the occasional unusual much higher number for our worthy opponents making, probably makes it worth remaining conservative.
So I agree, but waffle like a leaf in England during April. And speaking of that, I am sad for you that the weather isn't better, but one can dream, especially if he is a famous poet.