Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

There’s no second chance on stage, and I was trained to make the most of my first chance.

Kate Smith

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


**Take-out of spades


The final of the Mind Sports Games in 2012 pitted Poland against Sweden. The Poles might have started as favorites, but Sweden won convincingly, their first ever world title in the open game.

Here is Per-Ola Cullin (a judge in his life outside bridge) at work in the very delicate contract of three no-trump doubled. He might not have enjoyed himself on a club lead, but West quite reasonably started with a low diamond to dummy’s 10.

When declarer led a heart to the queen, West ducked – which was essential —then captured the heart jack at trick three and returned the spade jack – ducked by East. Yes, a club shift or an unlikely overtake of the spade jack by East would have worked better, but neither play was entirely obvious.

Given a reprieve, Cullin made no mistake. He finessed in hearts and cashed the last heart winner, squeezing East. At the table, East pitched a club. Cullin now led a diamond to the king and ace, won the club return to cash the second club, then threw East in with a club to lead spades. That gave him an entry to hand to cash his spade and diamond winner.

Had East kept an additional club winner and pitched a spade on the fourth heart, that would have let West win his diamond ace and exit in clubs. But declarer would have finessed, and after East won the club queen and spade ace he would have had to give dummy or declarer the rest.

While the meaning of a double here is a matter for partnership agreement, I believe it is best to play it as take-out not penalty. This is because you are more likely to be short not long in clubs here. Double suggests a singleton (with any range) or a doubleton, in which case you would rate to have some extras. So I would double here. Responder’s double, were you to pass, would just show extras.


♠ K Q 8 7 3
 Q J 4
 K Q 6 4
♣ 8
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT 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