Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

I learned that we can do anything, but we can’t do everything… at least not at the same time. So think of your priorities not in terms of what activities you do, but when you do them.

Dan Millman

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

*Limit raise with four trump


These days Bergen raises have become very popular, though I’m not a huge fan myself. After an opening bid of a major by his partner, responder jumps to three hearts with preemptive values, and uses three clubs or three diamonds to show various sorts of four-card raises.

Here you sit East after North makes a three diamond call to show a limit raise with four trump, and South has accepted the invitation. West leads the club four to your ace. Plan the defense.

At the table East correctly diagnosed that the lead was a likely singleton, so he gave his partner a ruff, but this left West with no way to take two more tricks. That player tried the effect of ace and another diamond, but declarer claimed the balance.

East should have foreseen that if he gave his partner a ruff immediately it would set up a lot of tricks for declarer. Best defense was first to switch to the diamond queen – playing partner for the diamond ace or both the diamond king and trump ace.

If declarer ducks the queen, you can give partner a ruff; if he covers, partner can put you in again with your diamond jack, and only now do you give him the ruff.

By the way, if you were to ask me how to play the direct raise to three of partner’s major, I could happily live with it showing mixed (6-9 HCP) values, while using three clubs and three diamonds either as limit with three and four trump respectively, or just as natural and invitational.

I agree with not opening one no-trump here. But how to advance after the double? You could simply bid two clubs, or if you play redouble as strong (and not a support double promising three spades) that would be fine too. Passing or bidding one no-trump just seems wrong, though – you may never catch up.


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

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


jim2October 5th, 2016 at 1:01 pm

After West got his ruff, he might have tried the 8S.

Bobby WolffOctober 5th, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Hi Jim2,

Right you are, but there are several sensitive, but somewhat camouflaged issues, not mentioned.

First, South needs to have falsecarded his clubs, possibly the jack then the king, or possibly only the seven or eight and then the king.

Obviously East would have preferred a diamond back after the hoped for ruff by his partner, but only from the king but not the ace.

If East would have led the deuce back and not the five, South IMO should likely play East for not having the spade king, especially since by rising with the ace of spades, declarer would then have to play East for the ace of diamonds to make the hand, a card he could not hold (if his suit preference was to be believed).

However, if East was almost sure his partner’s lead was a singleton he should then “psyche” his suit preference signal, but partner then should play him for it, otherwise this legal bridge scam will not work.

However, how would you like going to a committee, wherein the members were less experienced than world class players and try to win the argument presented by the defense that obviously declarer would try and falsecard suit preference signals, thus West could figure that his partner knew his return could be obfuscated to such a degree that he West would be misled.

And the beat goes on, making all those so-called purists on the committees likely not qualified to rule when very high-level players become involved with a UI problem.

And how about the length of time East might take in deciding what to do, but eventually deciding on the ruff instead of the winning diamond honor?

And yet I cannot convince the current bridge hierarchy to have precedents set, therefore enabling bright, but less experienced committee members, to read up and understand the value of precedents set being vital to high-level bridge jurisprudence.

And the reasons for it are IMO that committee members desire to sometimes choose politics for their decision rather than “truth”, a charge that is almost impossible to prove, but to say it is not ever present, is to directly lie.

The truth, you bet it is, and can it be rectified? Likely not, since like American Politics, anything goes, and most everyone cares more about their own future than do they about the future of our game. Also why not make the committee members disclose publicly their vote and why? It is just not required, taking away the last chance to challenge this horrible process. Powerfully sad, but true.