Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, December 9th, 2016

Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith.

Reinhold Niebuhr

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


Sometimes a contract can be so poor you have only one convincing line of play for your contract. And sometimes even identifying a playable line can be a struggle!

Here after South stretched to open two clubs, North relayed with two diamonds. Now when opener rebid two hearts, North raised to three hearts, (stronger than four hearts). Subsequently, an exchange of minor-suit cue-bids saw South elevated to slam. Did both players do too much? I guess so.

When West led the spade four, declarer ducked in dummy, hoping that West had led away from the 10. But East could follow with that card, and South won with the ace.

Declarer played two rounds of hearts, then four rounds of diamonds. His hope was that the hand with three trumps would have to follow to all the diamonds. Somewhat to his surprise, the cards cooperated, and two spades could be discarded from dummy. But when declarer played a spade, West hopped up with the queen to return his last heart, and kill dummy’s spade ruff.

As is so often the case, declarer’s fatal mistake came at trick one. When West produced the spade 10, South should riposte by allowing it to hold. Now the timing of the hand has changed. East will probably return a spade, but declarer takes his ace now.

The key difference now is that after two rounds of trump followed by four rounds of diamonds, dummy’s last two spades depart as before. But now a spade can be ruffed with dummy’s last trump and declarer can claim the rest.

This hand is on the cusp of a two spade response, but I’d suggest caution today, and go low with a bid of one spade. Here, your weak trumps coupled with the fact that you have only four, and the poorly positioned diamond king are all danger signals. Also, the fact that you have a doubleton diamond means you may have duplication of shape. A doubleton in hearts would be a far more promising holding.


♠ J 9 6 2
 9 7 4
 K 2
♣ A J 5 3
South West North East
Pass 1 Dbl. 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


slarDecember 24th, 2016 at 3:43 am

RE the column it is a good feeling when you can identify the one line that could possibly work and it does. Of course if you have too many of those hands in a session you are asking for trouble!

RE BWTA: I agree 100% with that assessment and would add that the bidding is probably not over. Someone will probably bid 2D. Hopefully this gets passed back to you so that you can reopen with a double. However, if partner reopens with a second double, do you bid 2H or 3C?

bobby wolffDecember 24th, 2016 at 5:27 am

Hi Slar,

Yes, today’s column is basic, but it is surprising how difficult it can become for the responder to the double to bid only one spade, but if it goes, as you suspect Pass Pass, 2 diamonds, to now bid 2 hearts rather than 3 clubs which, if given a preference by partner will get us to the three level instead of safely contracting for only 8 tricks.

Be careful with some of these random doubles since they may be interpreted, rightly so, as penalty. The modern game whereby double is oft for takeout, rather than penalty present moving parts, always subject to partner definition, which is not always agreed.

Once in a while partner may double one diamond with 3-5-2-3 distribution when the hearts are not strong, e.g s. AQx, h. Qxxxx, d. Ax, c. Qxx thinking a TO dbl is more descriptive than is a one heart overcall. Because of this I would rate rebids by the responder as: 2 hearts 100, 2 spades, 80 Dbl, 50 3 clubs 20, and pass 0.