Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 16th, 2017

If you kept the small rules you could break the big ones.

George Orwell

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


Third hand high is all very well, but sometimes you need to know when not to follow the rules. This board came at the end of a round-robin match in the 2016 European championships last year, and saw both English pairs doing extremely well. This hand cemented their victory in a round-robin match.

In one room Andrew Robson, North, reached three no-trump. West decided he had enough to double this, since his partner had doubled one club. Robson ended with an overtrick after East unluckily decided that it would be a good moment for the lead of the spade queen. (He wasn’t entirely mistaken: had declarer held the bare jack of spades, or two small spades, instead of the doubleton spade jack, he might have been proved right.)

In the other room the auction was as shown in the diagram. The Hackett brothers were on defense, and Justin Hackett, having shown a shapely but limited take-out hand with his two club call, led a low spade. I think Jason Hackett did very well to refrain from playing the queen, but instead to put in the eight, forcing the 10. When declarer ran the clubs and led a heart toward his hand, the defenders had arranged to keep their red aces and each of them had retained three spades.

Jason could win his heart ace and shift to the spade queen, pinning dummy’s jack, allowing the suit to run on defense. So they defeated the contract by one trick, for a 14 IMP swing.

The three heart call may be natural, with 5-4 shape, or bidding out values, indirectly looking for no-trump, but without half a stopper in diamonds. If North had jack-third or queen-doubleton in diamonds, he might have bid three diamonds here. Since no-trump is not in the picture now, I would jump to five clubs to suggest a hand that has been improved by the action, indirectly suggesting short diamonds.


♠ J 2
 K J 6
♣ A K Q 9 5 4 3
South West North East
1 ♣ 1 1 ♠ 2
3 ♣ 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