Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Avoid shame but do not seek glory – nothing so expensive as glory.

Sydney Smith

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


South has an obvious rebid of his strong five-card suit when his partner sets up a two-over-one game force. North should simply raise to game now, assuming the partnership plays that as a minimum hand with no slam interest.

After the fourth highest lead of the club two South doesn’t need to put up dummy’s club queen. If West has the king, South will have a later chance to win with dummy’s queen; and if East has the king, there is certainly no advantage in playing dummy’s queen.

South must go after hearts at once, saving dummy’s trumps as re-entries to his own hand. When dummy’s king wins the first heart trick, South has a convenient way in trumps to get back to his hand for another heart lead. West takes the heart ace, and continues with the club jack. The defenders cash two clubs and now East shifts to a diamond. South wins the diamond ace then leads the spade queen, with the intention of drawing trump with the queen and ace, ending in dummy. If the hearts are then established, all will be well.

However, when the spade 10 appears from the West hand, South can improve on that plan. It is now possible to enter dummy both with the spade ace and also with the eight.

South therefore overtakes the spade queen, ruffs a low heart with a high trump, and leads a low trump to dummy’s eight. South can now cash dummy’s hearts to pitch his diamonds, and make his game.

On auctions of this sort, some people play that even though the auction is game forcing, responder can limit his hand to a minimum response (say 6-8 points) with a call of two no-trump. In the absence of this agreement, simply give preference to three clubs, and let partner describe his hand further.


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


David WarheitJune 15th, 2016 at 9:15 am

3NT is quite a bit a better contract than 4S. I think that the rebid by S of 2NT has more going for it than has actual bid of 2S which normally shows a 6-card suit, and N, with his nice fillers in C & D might choose to raise to 3NT instead of showing his S support. What do you think?

bobby wolffJune 15th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Hi David,

While you are probably correct in determining 3NT to be a superior game contract than 4 spades, it is only such, by the holding of the jack, ten, and nine of diamonds rather than the missing of any one of those specific diamond cards.

Since 6 clubs are held and only 5 diamonds, with, under your suggested bidding (when South opts to rebid 2NT over the suspected routine 2 hearts by partner). However, it is quite a choice by North of not showing his respectable three card spade holding, and then merely raising to 3NT. Of course, he is in possession of both the jack and ten of diamonds, but should he then expect South to hold the nine, when indeed he did hold the ace, but perhaps not the favorite to also include the nine with it.

In a nutshell, my opinion is that there are worse bids than the rebid of 2NT made by many good players, including this South, but for North to not offer a spade contract instead of unilaterally just raising to 3NT is showing a lack of discipline which, if left unchecked, will eventually, if not sooner, destroy that partnership.

Playing results is OK, certainly as a discussion item, but then cool heads should understand what is involved and accept that bridge is not played with transparent cards, especially during the bidding when evidence of making winning bids is not nearly as clear as a declarer, or, for that matter, the defenders, are usually privy to, once the play of the hand begins.

No doubt there is much guesswork in both the bidding (when tens and nines sometimes instead of eights and sevens) solely determine what the best contract should have been.

Summing up, I guess 3NT could have been the final contract, but for North to not offer spades as a choice (while playing 5 card majors) and having South rebid 2NT (acceptable, but with side aces suit oriented, rather than kings and quacks, which tend to favor NT). However, once North rebids 3 spades, it becomes, at least to me, trivial and overwhelming, to go for the spade game rather than 3NT.

However, I am only one voice and since 3 NT is better on this hand, let the winner explain, not someone who is only theorizing.

Mircea1June 15th, 2016 at 4:22 pm

Hi Bobby,

My new partner insists on playing 2NT Jacoby and mini-splinters, both with invitational values, in response to major suit openings. They are both new to me. What is your opinion on these treatments? Using them on this hand it would have produced this auction: 1S – 2N (balanced invitational raise); 3S (minimum, no shortness) – 3NT (choice of contracts); all pass

bobby wolffJune 15th, 2016 at 5:26 pm

Hi Mircea1,

First, Jacoby trump raises require 4 trumps (possibly a very few exceptions, but this fairly balanced hand is certainly not one of them).

Second, mini-splinters, where a partnership can stop short of game if a misfit in determined is far too difficult for any type partnership but a very experienced one, and better fit for matchpoint play than for IMPs wherein exactness in bidding is a big payoff. Sometimes in IMPs a bad game contract is reached, but instead made, because of:
1. an unlucky lead by the defense.
2. miss defense during the hand
3. lucky lie of the cards.
4. brilliant play plus imperfect defense
5. game would not have made, but the opponents took a sacrifice against it.
6. mini-splinters are forgotten by one player.

All the above are reasons to put maximum pressure on the opponents wherein any mistake or miss-judgment by them costs more than just a part score.

In addition, once partner responds to South’s 1 spade opening with Jacoby support, it would indeed be foolish to not play anything but spades since those aces (in the South hand) are usually much better for suit play than they are for NT. Kings and quacks are prototype positive for NT, certainly not aces.

Also, your new partner is inventing a new convention, NGF Jacoby, instead of the regular Jacoby which is definitely GF.

However, I advise for you to go ahead and experiment with what he asks you to do, but be sure then to come clean and save real life examples to discuss with our site later.

No doubt, playing bridge is for fun, but trying to win is serious business and requires a different mindset.

Good luck for whatever happens.