Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, July 21st, 2016

We do not quit playing because we grow old; we grow old because we quit playing.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

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

*Weak with spades or hearts


Today’s deal sees Nicola Smith of England in the hot seat as declarer. Smith is currently the most successful woman bridge player in the world – though Jill Meyers of the US is close behind her.

East’s offbeat two diamond opening showed a weak two-bid (normally six cards) in either major. Smith’s two hearts was natural, North’s two spade bid was a cuebid showing a strong hand. In the end North closed her eyes and hoped that her partner’s hearts were good enough for slam.

When West led the spade six, it is easy to see that declarer could have succeeded easily enough by playing to ruff a spade in the dummy. However, understandably, declarer expected West would be able to ruff in on the third round of spades.

So she won the spade lead and played a trump. East correctly went in with the ace and played a second trump. Smith won in dummy, cashed the diamond ace and king, discarding a club and ruffed a diamond. She then ran off all her trump.

Her last three cards in hand were a trump, a club and the spade jack; in dummy she had two clubs and a diamond. When she cashed the last trump West had to come down to a singleton club in order to keep the master diamond; East also had to come to a singleton club in order to keep the master spade, so dummy’s club queen was sure to win trick 13. It was a classic double squeeze.

My answer might be unpopular here, but I would strongly disagree with an opening bid of two no-trump here. With hearts wide open, and more than enough values to open one club and reverse into two diamonds, I’d much rather treat this hand as suit-oriented, not balanced and open one club. There is time enough to get back to no-trump later.


♠ A K
 7 5
 A K 8 2
♣ A Q 9 8 4
South West North East

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 WarheitAugust 4th, 2016 at 9:17 am

After E won the HA and returned a H, S won in hand (not in dummy-not possible), CASHED THE SA, and then continued as described.

bobbywolffAugust 4th, 2016 at 2:36 pm

Hi David,

Yes, of course, apologize?, heartily, Why?, carelessness and horrible proof reading by me, run amok.

However, on this hand West falsecarded on the first heart with the nine, allowing declarer to run it to the seven in dummy.

And speaking of bridge, if you believe that above excuse there is a big beautiful one in both New York and San Francisco I’d like to sell you. and at a bargain price.

However, in truth we were just testing our readers to see who noticed our INTENTIONAL error and you were the only one who had the chutzpah to challenge us. And now about that bridge, you may want to buy?

Does the above sound anything like the current Presidential USA election?

Iain ClimieAugust 4th, 2016 at 9:05 pm

Hi Bobby,

A couple of stray thoughts. Firstly, can the contract reasonably be made on a club lead, apart from double dummy (CA, DAK shedding club, club ruff, HK then set up and cash the clubs after drawing trumps)? Secondly, should West consider not leading a spade when East fails to double 2S on this sequence?

A case of loose lips sink ships today, I fear, although West might have led a spade anyway if NS were allowed a free run to 6H. I’ve played various types of Mult 2D over the years and the urge to trot out the toy whenever possible does have to be resisted on occasion. If East just keeps quiet, what is the best line do you think?



bobbywolffAugust 4th, 2016 at 10:57 pm

Hi Iain,

All I can add to the two lines of play at the forefront, both winning lines is that in the absence of the Multi then after a spade lead, just cash two spades, throw a club away on the high diamond and come back to hand with a diamond ruff, ruff the losing spade and return with a club ruff, probably ruffing with the eight, then safely draw trumps (4 leads).

One wise caveat to pass on while through the years playing against good winning players:

Whatever body action RHO tries to give you while following suit (and most play that game), which is not unethical but simply a game that whatever East is trying to convey with his body action about the possibility of you being overruffed, do exactly the opposite to which he is trying to raise your concern. If, in other words, he is trying to convince you to ruff high, don’t and if he is not, do.

Reason being is that he knows exactly your problem (almost every good player worth his salt ALWAYS knows that, so all he can do is try and mislead you into doing the wrong thing).

However since a Multi was opened, that doesn’t look like the right line. However since the six of spades was led, and a higher one next time, you might trust him, if you consider him the less dominant player in his partnership and play him for the 3 spades he is representing.

However there is an ilk of very good player who while defending a slam almost never gives the right count or the normal opening lead, figuring his partner will certainly know how to defend anyway so why should he help you.

Those are very dangerous types, hard to play against, but being forewarned may be being satisfactorily warned.

From the above I know I haven’t helped much, but playing these types of hands will toughen up that declarer for the long run.

Iain ClimieAugust 5th, 2016 at 9:01 am

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for that, especially the point about giving false count against a slam. Definitely one to think about.