Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 12th, 2018

I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

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

*Two key-cards and the diamond queen


In today’s deal, North and South disagreed about what South’s three-heart rebid might have suggested. Was it good hearts or doubt about the best game? Be that as it may, South’s slam was a particularly unattractive spot; declarer had to assume a very specific lie of the cards even to give himself a chance to come home.

When West led the heart jack against six diamonds, declarer saw there appeared to be a heart and a club loser. He played low from dummy, and if East had risen with the ace, declarer’s problems would have been solved, as North’s second club could have been discarded on the heart queen.

However, when East defended correctly by ducking the first trick, South won with the queen. He appreciated that East was sure to hold the heart ace, since West was unlikely to have underled it against a slam. His best chance was that East also held the club king, in which case he could be the target of an endplay.

So South set about eliminating the pointed suits. He crossed to the spade ace, then ruffed a spade high. A low diamond to the nine was followed by another spade ruff high. Crossing to the dummy in trumps again, he took the spade king, on which he threw a heart.

Now the stage was set to exit with the heart king, endplaying East. He was forced either to present declarer with a ruff-sluff, whereupon dummy’s second club could be discarded, or to play a club, allowing dummy’s queen to score.

Your partner’s rebid shows a balanced hand with or without a four-card major. You want to play no-trump if facing a spade stopper, but wouldn’t it be nice to get across the nature of your hand (club support and singleton spade) in one go? You can: Jump to three spades — a splinter-bid since two spades would be natural and forcing — to give partner the choice of playing in either minor or no-trump.


♠ 7
 Q 6 3
 A Q 10 8 2
♣ A 8 4 2
South West North East
    1 ♣ Pass
1 Pass 1 NT 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Mircea1January 27th, 2018 at 3:52 am

Hi Bobby,

Good to see that the site is back up and running again. I was worried for a bit.

Regarding the 3H rebid (“raising” the artificial fourth suit) in today’s column, do you have a preference for its best use, or is it simply a matter of partnership agreement?

Bobby WolffJanuary 27th, 2018 at 6:36 pm

Hi Mircea1,

Thanks for your concern about the site being down. While unpleasant and unpredictable it just seems to be a fact of communications of the era in which we live and thankfully does not happen often and when it does, our site technicians are always up to the challenge.

Yes, any aspiring partnership needs to, at the very least, discuss the general meaning of what could be called the 5th suit bid. However that result usually tends to imply that it is only a noise which shows a relative indifference to making a decision, but that reluctance narrows down any declarative action, such as nailing down the eventual partnership trump suit nor, at least at that time, of selecting 3NT as a likely resting place.

However, that 5th suit 3 heart bid was correctly interpreted by his partner to show a liking for diamonds to be trump (as he had announced at his last turn) and enabled him to check on controls and then bid slam.

No, it was not a very good slam (65% or better) by most player’s judgment, but it did turn out to be one, when it made.

When it gets to at least the third full round of bidding, once one partner nor the other signs off at game, it is an indication that greater heights are, at least, to be considered.

The above description is perhaps too vague, but nevertheless hopefully helpful for constructive bridge thought.

Jan 29, 2018 – 凝縮収斂January 28th, 2018 at 11:07 pm

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