Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, June 9th, 2018

The valiant knight of Triermain
Rung forth his challenge-blast again,
But answer came there none.

Sir Walter Scott

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




The NEC tournament in Japan was recently won by a squad made up of one pair from Australia and one from New Zealand. In the finals, Tony Nunn from the winning Down Under team had to work very hard to generate a small swing for his side.

In one room, with two spades relatively comfortable for East-West, the Down Under team had sold out to one no-trump after West had shown the majors over a strong club.

Against one no-trump, the defenders led a spade to the queen and king; the spade nine came back and was covered and ducked. The defense could now take their four spades and two aces, but declarer had his seven tricks.

In our featured room, Tony Nunn played in three clubs after the auction shown, and West found the thoughtful lead of the heart ace and a second heart. Nunn won and played a trump to dummy, which was ducked, and a second trump to hand. When West discarded, declarer played a third trump to East, who led a spade to his partner for the heart ruff.

East now found the diamond shift, and Nunn read the position perfectly when he won in dummy and cashed one more trump. East was now subjected to an unusual squeeze: He chose to pitch a spade, so declarer came to hand with a diamond and ruffed out the spade king, with a diamond entry left in hand to cash his spade winner. Had East pitched a diamond, that suit would have run for declarer.

Making 110 was worth 1 hard-earned IMP.

Given that two diamonds is a transfer to hearts, should you simply complete the transfer or do more? If you play a call of two no-trump here as a maximum hand with three good hearts headed by two top honors or better, that call would be ideal. I recommend it as simple and easily remembered; it might get you to three no-trump facing the right balanced 7- or 8-count.


♠ J 10 7 6
 K Q J
 A K 2
♣ K 8 4
South West North East
1 NT Pass 2 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 RaoJune 23rd, 2018 at 9:42 am

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Since West advertised majors , it is highly probable that he cannot hold long diamonds . Hence , declarer after second round of clubs noting what’s discard could have played four rounds of diamonds ruffing the last one in hand which would have simplified the play.However , the winning line is quite elegant

A V Ramana RaoJune 23rd, 2018 at 9:51 am

what’s discard should read west’s discard.
(Great job : autocorrect)
And perhaps , instead of highly probable, It is a virtual certainty as West should have at least nine cards in majors.

jim2June 23rd, 2018 at 1:36 pm


That is how I would have played it. That seems an easy play, actually, with one heart, four diamonds, and four trump.

bobbywolffJune 23rd, 2018 at 1:45 pm


Thanks to you for another well analyzed discussion including another more straight forward declarer play sequence to success while attempting to make nine tricks in three clubs.

Perhaps I can add a worthwhile comment about the bidding and result in the other room where South was allowed to play 1NT making, after opening a strong club but then EW selling out to 1NT instead of competing to a making 2 spades.

No doubt, at least IMO, East should volunteer and accept competing to 2 spades while holding two prime cards, a ruffing value in the right suit (hearts) even though he will obviously be the short trump hand, Even with the bad trump break, hearts do split and winning bridge should demand competition to at least the 8 trick level before shutting down.

At least my belief as to what happened and why, (while only vaguely knowing the pairs involved) is that EW tended to enter the bidding (over a strong club) at the drop of a hat, therefore suggesting to East, especially while vulnerable, to be careful about competing over those “loose” intervention bids.

While I do not know the exact bidding (in the other room) we do know that West showed the major suits over South’s strong club opening (perhaps either by a double or an artificial bid). Why then wouldn’t East compete to the 8 trick level in spades before backing down and selling out to 1NT? He certainly would have raised a 1 spade overcall to two so why not when West is showing 9+ cards in the majors.

Might I then interject an opinion of, when that does happen, East should think, instead of the opposite choice, of it just being too dangerous not to venture 2 spades, either buying the contract or perhaps pushing the opponents one beyond their best suit (or NT) contract.

At least to me, that type of thinking is instrumental in making winners out of not so players and thus partnerships. More important than slightly superior technicians simply because that room for optimism (or not) occurs more often than complicated play or defense and, in addition, makes their partnership a more dreaded one to play against.

What do you and others, from your own experiences, think?

bobbywolffJune 23rd, 2018 at 2:15 pm

Hi Jim2,

While definitely agreeing with you and AVRR, I wonder what untoward distribution TOCM TM would have caused you as declarer, to overcome.

Perhaps East to hold: 763, h. xx, d. J10xxxx, Ax allowing them to take 6 tricks vs. 3 clubs (1 spade, 1 heart, 2 diamond ruffs, 1 heart ruff and the ace of clubs for down 200 while 3NT will make +600 NS.

A V Ramana RaoJune 23rd, 2018 at 2:50 pm

Yes sir . I too was thinking why east has not competed in spades at the other table allowing opponents 1 NT play. I think perhaps east can safely venture up to three spades vulnerability notwithstanding. ( You may please reflect) . Only one down . He knows for certain that west is short in both minors and anyway who would double three spades by east ( unless desperate)
& I think that east did not defend correctly. He can duck the first round of trumps but there is no reason for him to duck the second club . What he tried to achieve with that? He should have won the second club with A, led a spade , got a heart ruff and exited with another club killing the diamond ruff. However, now a competent declarer could find the squeeze as described in column line but at least he is put to test. By ducking east made life simple for declarer as he can ruff fourth diamond but and in this specific instance perhaps declarer liked it that way and found the arduous route to success. ( as may be seen south cannot afford to play three rounds of diamonds after just one round of club as west may be 2-2 in minors)

bobbywolffJune 23rd, 2018 at 3:28 pm


Some will sometimes say “The devil is in the details”, but to others, it is the details, when thought out, which often convince potential excellent players, to at least begin an upward ride to a better understanding of not only what is important, but both why and what is needed to get there from here.

No easy task, that, but at some point with every one who has achieved in bridge, that turning point was reached and to whatever degree, successfully overcome.

Our site and its dedicated followers is a good place to start, but it will always be up to each individual to determine his or her involvement.

Many thanks to all who keep contributing.

jim2June 23rd, 2018 at 7:36 pm

Certainly the cards would have realigned maliciously if I had been declarer.

For the actual declarer, however, note that East needed only to have 3 diamonds for the line initially proposed by AVRR to succeed. Even if East were able to ruff the fourth diamond, ruffing with the 9C would merely shift declarer’s 5th red winner to hearts, as it would take the place of East’s heart ruff. Ruffing with the AC would, of course, shift the 9th winner to the Board’s 5th club.

A V Ramana RaoJune 24th, 2018 at 3:39 am

Hi Jim 2
If diamonds are 3-3 , why should South ruff the fourth diamond. He will revert to clubs making the contract. ( he will only ruff if East has more than three diamonds while he is certain West cannot overruff as he does not have clubs by then)
Have a nice time

jim2June 24th, 2018 at 12:26 pm


My point was that it did not matter. The Line worked anyway, however declarer did it, just as long as West did not start with a distribution like:

– 5-5-4-1 (15 cards),
– 4-5-4-1 (14 cards), or
– 5-4-4-1 (14 cards).

Michael BeyroutiJune 24th, 2018 at 3:03 pm

Jim2: I didn’t know TOCM could also give a defender more than 13 cards!

jim2June 24th, 2018 at 3:38 pm

So very much to learn, young Padawan!


bobbywolffJune 24th, 2018 at 4:08 pm

Hi Michael,

As the great Caesar might have found out, cards can be like daggers, “Et tu”, TOCM TM? or only “Et one”, but who counts?

Brandon TaylorJune 24th, 2018 at 9:58 pm

Hi again Bobby.
Here’s my hand and the start of the bidding:
S A J 5
H Q 9 6 2
D 7 4 2
C 9 7 6
East (D) South West North
Pass. Pass. 1C. 1NT
2S ???
What should my next call be, if anything at all?