Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, March 10th, 2017

I would rather be able to appreciate things I cannot have than to have things I am not able to appreciate.

Elbert Hubbard

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


Not all nine counts are created equal. Facing a strong no-trump, North has a chunky five-card suit. He knows that his partnership is close to the game zone, and the long suit may well provide South with enough material for the nine-trick game to have play. So he should simply bid three no-trump instead of merely inviting it with a bid of two no-trump.

After a heart lead, not only does the heart finesse lose but the heart ace is knocked out of the dummy before South has had time to establish the clubs. Nonetheless it looks logical for South to go after the clubs, but look what happens when South leads out the club king and another club. West will duck both the first and the second club but will take the third club if South plays it. Similarly West will likewise refuse the king and diamond queen, but should take South’s low diamond at his first opportunity, to block the suit. Then he can clear the hearts, and South will end up making only two clubs and two diamonds. Coupled with two tricks in each major, that comes to just eight tricks for declarer.

By contrast, if South goes after diamonds early, he can make sure of reaching dummy for the third diamond trick, because he has a sure entry to the board in clubs. The defenders can take two hearts and two aces, but declarer can come to three diamonds and two tricks in each of the other suits, for nine tricks in total.

When you have a weak hand and four spades, you want to boost the auction to the three level as quickly as possible, so bid three spades right now. Yes, you don’t expect the opponents to bid four hearts, but you will certainly not object if they do – and they might well have a minor-suit fit that you have just made it far more dangerous for them to find.


♠ Q 10 7 2
 K 10 7 3
 9 4 2
♣ 7 5
South West North East
  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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact