Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

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

The uneducated person perceives only the individual phenomenon, the partly educated person the rule, and the educated person the exception.

Franz Grillparzer

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


Very few people have heard of the Vondracek phenomenon, and fewer still would believe that it is a serious bridge idea, rather than some kind of a joke. However, the concept is a serious one.

More than 60 years ago the idea was proposed in Bridge World by Felix Vondracek that when faced with a choice of trump suits, it might work better to play in the weaker not the stronger fit. The logic is that if you have sure losers whichever suit you play in, you may retain control by leaving the opponents with the master trumps. By contrast, playing the stronger suit may compel you to draw more rounds of trump.

On the auction shown, South finished up in four hearts when North thought it was just possible that South had 5-6 in the majors, and that otherwise it would be a pure guess as to which major might play better.

As you can see, four spades gets forced on repeated club leads, when the 4-1 heart break makes it impossible to set up the side suit. Not that four hearts was easy to make either, but South ruffed the opening club lead and guessed well to play three rounds of spades before playing trump.

West ruffed the third spade and played a second club, which South ruffed, in order to cash the heart ace and lead winning spades. West ruffed in, drew one more round of trump, then played a third club. However declarer could ruff, pitch a diamond from dummy on the master spade, and cross-ruff the rest.

Your partner’s combination of cuebid and heart call are forcing. With a hand worth no more than an invitation, he would have jumped to three hearts at his second turn. So you must bid, and the choice is to raise to four hearts or bid four clubs. I can’t say I like the raise with a singleton, but I’d like to make the most discouraging noise I can, and this is it.


♠ 8 5 4
 Q J 8 3 2
♣ A 10 8 4
South West North East
    1 1 ♠
Dbl. Pass 2 ♠ Pass
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