Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another.

Anatole France

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


On Vugraph at the 1997 Cap Gemini tournament I thought Bobby Levin found a nice play here. It is easy on hands like this simply to assume that you will not run into bad trump splits — and realize too late that you could have done something about it.

West’s initial double might strike some as foolhardy – put me in that group. While the contract of two clubs by West would have gone at least two down, maybe doubled, and two spades might have been a more comfortable spot for South, Levin played in three diamonds.

The defense started with three rounds of clubs. Levin ruffed in dummy and decided to tackle hearts at once, cashing the ace and king, then ruffing in hand. When the heart queen popped up from East, there was an even stronger indication that trumps were not going to split, since East had bid one no-trump, and West had made a take-out double, with five clubs and four hearts. Surely he therefore had three spades and one diamond.

Accordingly, Levin decided to continue with three rounds of spades. When everybody followed, declarer led the fourth round of hearts from dummy and discarded his spade when East, who was down to only his four trumps, ruffed with the diamond nine. In the three-card ending East was now endplayed to lead away from his trump honors. So Levin lost just one more trump trick and came home with his contract.

The auction has worked out just as you hoped when you passed one club. You wanted the opponents to bid and raise hearts, letting you double for takeout. The ambiguity here is that when you back into a live auction (West being unlimited) you might be three-suited with short hearts or have a hand like your actual one. Regardless, your partner can pick between the three suits other than hearts now.


♠ A Q 6 4
 A 3
 A 6 5 3
♣ 6 4 3
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♣
Pass 1 Pass 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieJanuary 31st, 2017 at 9:37 am

Hi Bobby,

Should west find a trump switch at T2 and how much does it help? I think South can cover, take the DA and then cash HAK and ruff a heart as before then cross to the spade and lead the HJ. East could now throw a spade, though, so perhaps declarer has to risk 3 rds of spades before the HJ.

Any thoughts here?



BobliptonJanuary 31st, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Hi, Ian,

Given I can survive almost any 3-2 trump split, I duck.

Iain ClimieJanuary 31st, 2017 at 3:12 pm

Hi Bob,

I think this goes back towards the column line or similar. If west plays two more clubs, south ruffs on dummy but mustn’t now cash DA. Instead HAK, H ruff, 3 rounds of spades and then HJ does it. If the defence exit in spades after cashing 2 clubs, declarer can cash DA, swear inwardly but then ruff down the HQ cash 3 spades then endplay east with a spade or the HJ to concede a trick to the DQat the end.

Easy seeing 52 cards, much harder at the table.


Mircea1January 31st, 2017 at 5:24 pm

Hi Bobby,

Should N-S be worried that they missed a profitable double of 2C or is that too risky? If it is, then do you agree with North’s initial Rdbl?

bobby wolffJanuary 31st, 2017 at 7:17 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, West probably should find a trump switch at trick 2, but then your announced line of play, as long as three rounds of spades are cashed by declarer before East has had a chance to throw one away (on the 4th heart) will see him home for his contract. Nothing too difficult as West appears to hold 5 clubs in the bidding (taking out 1NT to 2 clubs) therefore, at least one three card major, in this case spades.

bobby wolffJanuary 31st, 2017 at 7:23 pm

Hi Bob.

While your non-cover of the trump switch is a possibility (for good reason), I think covering is still preferred since your interior diamond spots in both hands are all higher than the at large, deuce. This may enable other lines of play to succeed, where by not covering may require declarer to take the heart finesse, which figures to be onside, but this time will not.

bobby wolffJanuary 31st, 2017 at 7:28 pm

Hi Mircea1,

Yes, NS can fret about not doubling those “wild” opponents, but losing any sleep, or worse, concentration at the table, about that oversight is non-productive and must be overcome at all high levels if winning is as important as it should be.

I do agree with North’s redouble and sure South, not North (holding only 2 clubs) could double, but sometimes doubling without strength or length at the 2 level is also precarious.