Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 28th, 2016

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.

George S. Patton

S North
None ♠ Q 8 4 2
 K 9 3
 Q J 10
♣ 8 5 4
West East
♠ J 5
 Q J 10 4
 9 8 6 4
♣ A K J
♠ 7
 8 7 6 5
 A 7 5 3 2
♣ 10 6 3
♠ A K 10 9 6 3
 A 2
♣ Q 9 7 2
South West North East
1 ♠ Dbl. 3 * Pass
4 ♠ All pass    

*Four spades, 6-9 HCP


The North hand offers a real problem in standard bidding after West stretches to double a one spade opener from South. At the table, North had a conventional gadget up his sleeve: he was playing a jump in hearts (the other major) to be a mixed raise in spades. This suggested four trump and just less than a limit raise, but more than preemptive values. South now had enough to drive to game.

When West led the club king, South tried to encourage the defenders to continue attacking clubs by dropping the nine, trying to give the West the impression that East’s play of the club three was the beginning of a signal. If West had taken his club ace it would have set up South’s club queen.

As it happened, West, used by now to South’s wiles, decided to shift to a red suit. Logically enough he tried the heart queen, and now South continued his devious ways by contributing a low heart from both hands, hoping that West would assume that his partner had the heart ace.

Maybe West might have focused on East’s low heart at this trick, but he can hardly be blamed too much for pressing on with another heart. Now South came into his own. He took the heart ace, drew trump, discarded the diamond king on dummy’s heart king, and ruffed out the diamond ace. He could get back to dummy with a trump, to discard two clubs on dummy’s two good diamonds, and another “unmakeable” contract had come home.

They say the perfect is the enemy of the good. While you could explore for an ideal fit for a club game or slam, what is in front of your nose is a hand that should play in partscore or game in spades. You may have 17 HCP, but your honors in your short suits aren’t pulling their weight. Treat the hand as a spade invitation, by jumping to three spades. If partner cannot bid game, it won’t be a good contract.


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


Patrick CheuJune 11th, 2016 at 2:38 pm

Hi Bobby, Though not perfect, if EW were playing reverse attitude on Ace and Queen leads or switches, East would have played the 8H here (in tempo) denying interest in hearts,then perhaps West might consider a diamond switch…all said West can see all the low pips on the QH..declarer’s heart duck gives the contract a chance..regards~Patrick.

bobby wolffJune 11th, 2016 at 6:05 pm

Hi Patrick,

You are correct and if I had another word to use it would be “right”.

However, then while declaring against “reverse attitude”, declarer should follow suit with a small one, but since he had only one (the deuce) he was “locked in” but…….sometimes a defender may just be mesmerized by the result of winning the trick and plow on without pause for thought.

Although that behavior occurs more often than noticed (especially from an inexperienced player),
it is the thought that counts. However it is indeed very possible that West not East, possessed the ace of diamonds, and, if so, all West needs to do is cash it for the setting trick, (assuming the club ace also cashes), but if so, this hand would never have been created.

And the merry-go-round keeps going around.

Thanks for your “intelligent” subject.

ClarksburgJune 11th, 2016 at 6:23 pm

About Responder’s bids over a Double of Partner’s Major suit opening.
Many of the experienced strong players at our local Clubs play that a Redouble shows 10+ HCP, ANY SHAPE, (” we’ve got ’em, and they’ll have to run”) and that Opener MUST PASS over RHO’s Pass at that point. So Responder would make the presumably penalty-oriented 10+ Redouble even with four trumps for Partner.
My current preference is that the Redouble strongly implies no fit. With four trumps, their double can be ignored and the three-level calls are systems on, such as in the column auction, (and two-level calls can also be systems on but with only three trumps.
Your comments and recommendations re the meaning of the Redouble, and Opener’s subsequent obligations?

bobby wolffJune 12th, 2016 at 12:55 am

Hi Clarksburg,

You pretty well defined how most experienced players handle redoubles and other responses.

My preference is not to deny support by redoubling, but informing partner that this hand figures to be ours and so with a balanced hand and even 4 trumps still redouble but then vigorously support later.

All the other gimmicks such as Truscott (also sometimes called Jordan and weak distributional bids at the three and sometimes at the four level show varying strengths of offense).

The truth, at least as I see it, makes little difference as long as the partner’s agree as to what the system bids should show.

IOW the execution of however it is played is what all players should use their concentration.

ClarksburgJune 12th, 2016 at 6:42 pm

Here’s the hand where the question of Opener’s responsibility after Partner’s Redouble first came up.
I held: S void, H KJ106532 D A6 and C QJ92
I opened it 1H, LHO Doubled and Partner Redoubled.
I now understand that Opener should generally Pass at this point in this auction, as per “experienced Partner’s” strict approach, and as endorsed by you.
Seems to me it’s clearly an offense-oriented hand and revalues to around 19/20. If Opener passes now but acts later, should the later call be a rebid of the seven-card Heart suit, or introducing Clubs?

ClarksburgJune 13th, 2016 at 2:06 am

In the actual auction, my RHO passed my Partner’s redouble, and I elected to go right to Four Hearts. As we were already in a 7-trick game (1HXX) I thought my jump to 10-trick game would show great Heart length and a mild slam try. Was that 4H call clearly wrong?

There’s another point. My Partner, the Redoubler, held:
S Q85 H void D K10972 C AK875
Was her HCP-showing Redouble clearly the right call with that unbalanced holding?

At the game, we stumbled into playing at 4HX, VUL, for a top.
Six Clubs makes.
Defending Spades X, not VUL, we’d have needed a four-trick set.
Is there a “right way” to get off the potential defensive track and on to a Declaring track?

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bobby wolffJune 16th, 2016 at 12:22 am

Hi Clarksburg,

Sorry for the very late reply.

Bidding 4 hearts, after your partner’s redouble is kind of a practical approach, since with a TO dbl on your left, slam doesn’t look very likely. It is no wonder that 4 hearts doubled making was a very good board, since it took a void in each hand plus the right diamonds honors to take care of all losers except, of course, the ace of trumps.

It seems I keep having to remind everyone, probably plus myself, that, in no way, is bridge bidding anywhere near an exact science, and anyone who foolishly thinks so, will be in for some very sad moments, when apparent perfection doesn’t arrive.

The very best players only try for a high percentage average for guessing right, and that is done, by just allowing for partner to have some of the right cards and/or lucky distribution, but also some of the not so.

Good luck and with all distributional hands, only experience, not any special knowledge, will see you through, but not necessarily so on any one hand.

Again sorry for my long delay in “catching up”, but I have had a few hectic times recently which has adversely affected my routines.