Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

The main function of a pseudo-promotion is to deceive people outside the hierarchy. When this is achieved, the maneuver is counted a success.

Laurence Peter

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


As South, you overcall two spades over two hearts without much enthusiasm, and at your next turn, your partner insists you bid slam if you have a heart control. How can you resist with such a perfect heart holding, even if the rest of your hand is uninspiring?

When dummy comes down, your slam appears to have excellent chances; you just need to hold your minor-suit losers to one. After winning the heart, you play the spade king and another spade to dummy, East pitching a heart. How should you plan the play from there on in, assuming East to have precisely six hearts?

The best sequence of plays is to cash the club and diamond aces, then ruff a heart to hand and lead a club to the nine, assuming West follows suit with a small club.

This line of play wins in every case when West has three clubs, since you have a discard coming eventually. It also works when he has four clubs, since when East wins the second club, he will be endplayed.

It also wins outright if West has the doubleton club queen or 10, or any singleton. And even if East had four clubs to the queen-10, then all he could do would be to return a club. At that point, the finesse for the diamond queen would be heavily favored to work. So you can cross to hand in spades and take the diamond finesse.

This line of play loses only when East has a 1-6-2-4 pattern with both minor-suit queens and the club 10.

The most accurate description of your hand is to treat it as a balanced 18-19 and rebid two no-trump, which invites your partner to bid game. The small doubleton heart is not a positive feature of your hand, but you never promised your partner a rose garden. Rebidding two clubs here would be too likely to miss a game if your partner should pass.


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


A V Ramana RaoFebruary 21st, 2018 at 3:20 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Yes , thank partner profusely for that wonderful nine of clubs ( without those Aces and kings, he does not have any reason to invite slam . So they are taken for granted)

bobbywolffFebruary 21st, 2018 at 4:48 pm


Yes, and of course, the “problem solving” aspect of high level bridge, at least on this hand, is in full bloom and one of the strong advantages of young people encountering bridge.

Add to that the bidding twist to what you so rightly, but not in name, refer. Generally, although not always 100%, the jump to 5 of an agreed major (in this case immediately) asks partner whether if he has at least second round control of the “obvious” suit (of course, in this case, hearts)

Furthermore, when partner not only possesses 2nd round control, (a singleton or the king), to which he is expected to accept a small slam, he, with 1st round control (especially the singleton ace) would usually accept (if able) by cue bidding 6 of the opponents suit, such as this hand, but uses his bidding judgment of being minimum or below for his 2 spade overcall and thus satisfies that deficiency, by what I think is good bridge, brazenly deciding to override the above responsibility.

Therefore, much high-level bridge knowledge is captured in a single hand, with a major touch of great judgment and, of course the proper play, to virtually ensure the great small slam.

The end result is that the reader, if he so desires, can use this hand to see, and even more uplifting, “directly feel” both the expertise and the learned judgment, which being excellent at bridge, often demands, in both bidding and play.

Finally and through the years, some conscientious bridge lovers have suggested to me, that the AOB column caters too much to the high-level game, leaving beginners in the dark with their basic understandings.

My answer is that rank beginning bridge is one thing and, of course, needs to be learned before aspiring to move up the ladder. But, at that stage, bridge in itself, is nowhere near a good enough game to warrant much, if any, attention.

It is only when the later stages of bridge progression is discussed, before we can all be proud about the first time we considered learning this (at least to me) and by far, greatest of all mind games.

Furthermore, I truly believe that the ACBL and other National centers of our immensely challenging world wide mind game to NEVER underestimate just how important the highest level could result in simply improving, everyday thinking.

It is true in all Olympic sports, including, soccer, basketball, American football, track & field, baseball (to be greater emphasized), boxing, ice hockey, winter sports including skiing, ice dancing, bob-sledding and many others as well as at other seasons, boat racing and many more, why not delve in what, at least IMO, in the next hundreds of years will be the unlocking of the tremendously underrated use of the human mind which is thought to be, at least by many (certainly including me), the least used, but ever present, next breakout challenge for much greater emphasis.

Time is wasting for a much greater emphasis, especially for those who agree with me, in the wonders of what the simple game of higher level bridge can bring to the future world.

A V Ramana RaoFebruary 21st, 2018 at 5:20 pm

Yes – Bridge is a truly wonderful and fascinating game . Apart from the pleasure it gives in putting the grey cells to their maximum use, I for one believe that the chances for a true bridge player to contract Alzheimer are fairly poor
And ironically, bridge perhaps is the only game in which winners need not be winners and losers need not be losers. There are unlucky experts and their antitheses hovering around everywhere

bobbywolffFebruary 21st, 2018 at 7:59 pm


Thanks for the endorsement.

We all can now expect a talented music writer to create a new melodic song, aptly named, “Call me Antithesis”.