Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

Oh, Vanity of vanities
How wayward the decrees of Fate are
How very weak the very wise
How very small the very great are!

William Thackeray

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


At the 2016 junior world championships held in Salsomaggiore, this deal occurred during the quarter-final match between the Sweden and Norway juniors.

Mikael and Ola Rimstedt, who are rapidly making their way to becoming one of the world’s top young pairs, bid this hand to three no-trump. The one diamond opener was natural and unbalanced, the two no-trump call showed extras with long diamonds, the three diamond call suggested a minimum hand with only four hearts.

Against three no-trump, Christian Bakke led a low spade; this went to the eight, jack and ace. Now declarer led a spade to the 10, and took a losing diamond finesse, East’s two being upside down count.

When Bakke won this, he decided declarer rated to be 3-6 in spades and diamonds. Obviously the defenders needed to run hearts now, and the question was whether to play partner either for ace-queen-third of hearts (when a low heart would let the defenders cash out easily); or queen-nine-third of hearts and the club ace — in which case again a low heart was necessary. But if declarer had a singleton honor, the heart king was necessary, since it catered for the stiff heart queen.

Bakke decided that with eight hearts and six clubs visible in the two hands, declarer rated to have a singleton heart more often than a doubleton, so he shifted to the heart king to defeat the game. This was worth a 10 IMP pick-up when three no-trump came home in the other room.

In this auction a cuebid of two spades might sound like it is based on heart support, but in practice the call is very unlikely to have primary heart support (since you might take stronger action with side-suit shortage). And since you might start with a double if playing support doubles, the cuebid is likely in the first instance to be looking for a spade stopper.


♠ A 9 5
 A Q J 8 4 3
♣ A Q 4
South West North East
1 Pass 1 1 ♠

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