Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, May 19th, 2017

Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.

Clive James

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


The trials for the world championships in Rhodes ultimately ended unhappily from my perspective, when we lost in the semi-finals. But here is a hand from the quarter-finals, showing my partner Bob Hamman in fine form; if you want to emulate his performance, you might consider the problem he was faced with, by looking solely at the West hand.

The opponents had maneuvered themselves into three no-trump, and naturally enough he led a low club, which went to my queen and declarer’s ace. Now declarer after some thought played a spade to the ace and a second spade back to the queen and his king. What now?

Hamman found the fine play of the heart queen. As you can see, with the diamond finesse succeeding, it was critical for the defense to take their heart winners at once, or declarer would have had at least nine winners. As it was, once the defense took their heart winners as East, I could exit with a diamond, and that led to two down Meanwhile, our teammates were recording 620 from four spades in some comfort.

One can sympathize with South’s problem at his second turn to speak — his choice of two no-trump would have worked satisfactorily against most defenders. Personally, though, I would drive to game with the South cards, so would use fourth-suit forcing and bid spades. If I didn’t feel the hand was quite worth that, an invitational jump to three spades would also be reasonable.

It never does any harm to go over the basics, once in a while. This auction is natural and non-forcing. Your partner knows you have six or more spades but wants strongly to suggest playing diamonds instead. Who are you to overrule him? You have two more diamonds than you might do! So pass, happily.


♠ Q J 8 6 4 2
 J 9
 10 2
♣ A K 6
South West North East
1 ♠ Pass 1 NT 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