Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

While all deception requires secrecy, all secrecy is not meant to deceive.

Sissela Bok

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


Last month I mentioned in passing that while attitude signals worked to give partner your opinion as to whether to continue with the suit led or whether to shift, there might still be occasions when you would encourage partner’s lead, even if you didn’t like the suit all that much.

The best reason for doing that is that you know you fear the consequences of partner’s shift, if you discourage his lead. Let us look at where we want to avoid partner making the “obvious” switch.

Playing a five-card major system, South opens one heart, West overcalls one spade, North bids two spades to show at least a limit raise in hearts and South bids four hearts.

When West leads a top spade, your systemic play would be the two, but do you really want partner to play a diamond, which is his most probable switch if you discourage spades? You are better off encouraging a spade continuation, (before the rats get at it) and allowing partner to collect his diamond winners if any in the fullness of time.

The point here is that even if partner were psychic enough to shift at trick two to a club not a diamond, declarer would then dispose of his second spade loser on the clubs and make his contract in a different way. From partner’s perspective, a diamond might be essential if declarer was about to build a discard on clubs and spades. His hand might be a 2=6=3-2 shape with the top hearts, diamond ace and club jack.

As 14-counts go, your hand could hardly be any better; indeed I could not imagine stopping out of game. The real concern might be that you would miss slam here, since the right 10-count opposite could make 12 tricks a formality. A jump by you to five clubs should be a splinter, setting diamonds as trump, and letting partner evaluate his assets as best he can.


♠ J 3
 A K 8 6 3
 A Q 7 4 2
♣ 2
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass
2 Pass 3 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