Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

The voice of Nature loudly cries
And many a message from the skies
That something in us never dies.

Robert Burns

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



Although defenders must not exchange information illicitly, they can legitimately try to use the size of the card they play to indicate their attitude to the suit led. Sometimes they can also pass on their count in the suit led (high for even low for odd).

Suit preference signals may also come into play, where the size of the card played indicates interest in the higher or lower of the other suits. Exactly the same principles exist when discarding rather than following suit.

Sooner or later, though, you will find that honesty is not always the best policy. Sometimes you may encourage your partner to continue leading his suit, for fear that he will shift to something worse. Equally, you might discourage your partner’s lead, when you can see that his obvious switch will be the right defense, even when you like the suit led.

In today’s deal you defend four spades after your partner opened two hearts. You should see that if you encourage West’s opening lead of the heart king by showing a doubleton, your partner will surely lead out three rounds of the suit, trying for an over-ruff. That lets the contract make, since declarer can ruff high, then discard a critical club loser on the diamonds – which maybe should not come as a total surprise to you.

If you discourage hearts at the first trick, implicitly showing an odd number of cards in that suit, then maybe partner will find the club switch at trick three?

I could understand the attempt to play for penalties here, by passing out one diamond doubled. Give me the diamond J-10 instead of the four-three and I would consider it even more seriously, but as it is I will try to win the event on the next deal and simply bid one no-trump.


♠ 9 8 6
 9 6
 9 8 7 4 3
♣ A Q 6
South West North East
  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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact