Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

Homer himself, in a long work may sleep.

Robert Herrick

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


Even the experts don’t get them all right. Witness what happened on this deal from the first semifinal session of the Kaplan Blue Ribbon Pairs, when a multiple world champion reached four hearts after a strong no-trump auction where East had been somewhat frisky with his overcall.

When West led his singleton spade, North went up with the spade ace and played a heart from dummy to get the bad news. He won the heart ace and played the club ace followed by another club. Now West had no choice but to win and play a third club, ruffed.

Declarer next threw West on lead with the third heart, but after a diamond exit though South no longer had a diamond loser he did still have two spades to lose, for down one. West could avoid being endplayed in diamonds by unblocking his king at the critical moment.

At the point declarer ruffed the third club, he should have found his way home. Since he needed to find the diamond king onside, he should have led a diamond towards the queen at once. West must win and can do no better than exit with a diamond. At this point a trump to declarer’s king allows him to cash the diamond ace, pitching a spade. A third round of hearts puts West on lead to provide a ruff-sluff and dummy’s last losing spade goes away.

In essence, declarer loses a diamond trick he could avoid, but he gets a discard and a ruffsluff to more than compensate for that.

When you have transferred into a major, a double by you at your next turn is not pure penalty. It is card-showing – suggesting invitational values or better. Your partner can chose between defending or reverting to hearts, depending on how suitable his red-suits are for one action or the other.


♠ A Q 5
 J 10 8 5 3
 Q 9
♣ 10 6 2
South West North East
  Pass 1 NT Pass
2 3 Pass 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


Chris CurranDecember 6th, 2016 at 3:05 pm

Bidding 3nt over opps 3diamond bid is a viable option gives declarer a choice of games

bobby wolffDecember 6th, 2016 at 4:53 pm

Hi Chris,

No doubt the bid of 3NT over the 3 spade intervention bid by your RHO would give partner an option to pass or correct. And the same no doubt, that partner would opt to merely pass 3 NT (holding AQx in his LHO’s suit.

However West would then lead the king of clubs instead of his partner’s spade and down
more than one would go declarer.

Worse than that, while holding 5 cards in partner’s transfer to suit, why then would South do anything but accept his partner’s transfer?

While we all prefer good results, no one who hasn’t seen the hand records in advance (when pre-dealt hands are used) would possibly bid anything except hearts with the South hand, although he does have a minimum 1NT opening and may decide to pass.

But most will not refuse the temptation to inform partner that he likes his partner’s also 5+ suit and therefore opt to bid it.

However, thanks for your comment since it shows a desire to beard that lion of not misplaying that 4 heart contract, although your alternative (in spite of luckily catching AQx in RHO’s spades in dummy) will still get its deserved poor result, when LHO does not cooperate with his partner and instead let’s his own hand dictate the defense.

bobby wolffDecember 6th, 2016 at 5:42 pm

Hi Chris,

Please excuse me, since going back over your comment I now realize that you are discussing the BWTA and not the main column hand.

I then could happily report that IMO while 3NT would do exactly how you expect it to, it is an overbid, since you are a trifle short in strength of hand, particularly so since the opening diamond lead will come through your Qx instead of up to it (eg partner having the ace or king third).

Having said the above, a card showing double will allow partner, from his position to be in on the decision which includes bidding three or possibly but unlikely 4 hearts (he didn’t bid even three when given a choice), 3NT or even pass the double for penalties.

All the above being possible, the location of my honors and distribution may indicate (especially at IMPs or rubber bridge) to merely pass and “live to fight another day” although at matchpoints I do not like my prospects for scoring well, since not all West’s (being a passed hand) will likely be making the same bid.

Again, my apologies for misreading what you were attempting to suggest (BWTA, not today’s hand).