Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 15th, 2018

I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.

Abraham Lincoln

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



At the European Open Championships last year, Cedric Lorenzini played six spades on the lead of a low heart to the 10, East’s queen and a low ruff. He played three rounds of diamonds, ruffed a heart to hand, took the spade ace and led a fourth diamond. West ruffed in, and that was fatal. (Pitching a heart now, and again on the fifth diamond, is better. Declarer ruffs a club to dummy and advances the heart king, which East must duck to set the slam).

As it was, declarer overruffed and led the heart king to pin the jack. West ruffed the fifth diamond, but declarer could discard dummy’s club loser and ruff one club in dummy, pitching the other on the established heart nine.

At trick five, declarer does better to lead the heart king. When East covers with the ace, South ruffs with the queen or jack. Next, he cashes the spade ace and follows with the fourth diamond, giving West a choice of poisons.

If he ruffs low, South overruffs in dummy, ruffs a heart back to hand and plays the last diamond, pitching a club from dummy. South can arrange to cash the club ace, ruff a club and discard a club on the established heart nine.

If West ruffs high to return the spade eight (the best play), declarer wins dummy’s 10 and ruffs out the heart jack. Finally, if West pitches a club or the heart jack, South throws a club from dummy and leads the fifth diamond. Declarer now either scores his trumps separately or sets up the heart nine, if necessary.

Your partner’s two-spade call shows extras and sets up a game force. It feels right to me to bid clubs, then raise diamonds at your next turn if your partner rebids three no-trump. While a direct diamond raise doesn’t guarantee four, if you can bid your suits in economical order, you should probably do so.


♠ 7
 A Q 8 7 2
 Q 8 3
♣ K J 8 5
South West North East
    1 1 ♠
2 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


Jeff SJune 29th, 2018 at 2:06 pm

Hi Bobby,

I am a little confused by today’s BWTA. I wanted to bid 3C as the column answer suggests, but after 3NT, I thought the next bid from me would be 4H.

I take it the 2S bid doesn’t promise heart support? I was thinking it meant he had three hearts and a strong hand. Now, I am thinking it shows a strong hand with either two or three hearts?


A.V.Ramana RaoJune 29th, 2018 at 2:41 pm

Hi Dear Mr.Wolff
South must realize that diamond break is essential for the contract. And so, Perhaps he could have played spade Q from hand after ruffing the heart lead. West would most probably win. ( Though a competent defender may duck, it only makes life easy for south)Now if he returns a heart, dummy plays ten and whether east covers or not , it does not matter. If he covers, south ruffs, cashes one high trump and tests diamonds. As they break , he ruffs the third round and comes to hand with club A and leads fourth diamond . Even if west ruffs, dummy can overruff and now south can come to hand with a heart ruff and lead fifth diamond discarding club from dummy for twelve tricks. In case west returns a club or a spade too, south can prevail without much problem . So I feel that playing Spade Q retaining control is a slight refinement.
As may be noted, if south plays spade A and works on diamonds, east may ruff fourth diamond if the trumps break 2-2 with west holding K
You may please reflect

bobbywolffJune 29th, 2018 at 4:26 pm

Hi Jeff S,

Yes, I appreciate your judgment, but after what you suspect is correct, almost always heart support (3 or more), (with the small possibility of long solid spades and a slam oriented hope after your 2 heart bid, the exception), it is now more constructive to show 3 card diamond support (normally 1-5-3-4) so that partner can judge what slam to aim for, hearts or diamonds (with spade ruffs in the short hand, clearly visible).

Discounting the exception, you are correct in what to expect from partner’s cue bid, and hopefully you will profit from the BWTA explanation of basically showing a singleton spade without having to jump (after the disclosure of a fit) in order to enable even more information for the partnership to process.

PS. Therein lies the necessity for both partners to be equally well schooled in partnership bidding, enabling either of them to make better decisions when called to the task.

bobbywolffJune 29th, 2018 at 4:55 pm


An inference from East’s first round double suggests a singleton spade (since, being vulnerable, his high card content is limited, but that singleton could be the king. Of course the 3-3 diamond break or QJ doubleton is necessary along with East not having falsecarded the queen of hearts from AQJ.

As Jim2 may explain, his head will start to hurt when considering the exact line on hands like this, but the experience of better guessing what to expect from the bidding of high level players (eg singleton spade with East) also plays a part, if at the very least from being a 15 minute wait at trick 2, while the declarer is attempting to decide on his best effort.

Finally, after a substantial wait (or even a prompt play), I doubt seriously that even just a decent West would duck any lower spade headed to dummy than the ace, that is unless he has some kind of bet that those current opponents are going to win the event (not that many quite lowly opponents would not consider it).

Ken MooreJune 30th, 2018 at 12:15 am

I have been “lurking” on your site for the last 2 years. To tell you the truth, your column is on the very upper limits of what I can handle at my age and with the meds that I am on. On 12/18/16 there was an exchanged between you someone who loved the game and left the game 40 years ago, as I did. (I love my wife of 45 years but she does not play the game. No one is perfect, right?) As I get back into the game, what do you think about DealMaster Pro:

bobbywolffJune 30th, 2018 at 7:48 am

Hi Ken,

It is unexpected. but very nice to hear from you, especially about your “lurking” on our site for the last couple of years.

Also I and others who write regularly here, appreciate your love for bridge as well as wanting to keep up with modern trends (hopefully we provide that), but just because it sometimes becomes very challenging for you, doesn’t mean that our back and forth doesn’t maintain your interest and keep you up close and personal with the game we all love.

And despite your imperfect wife (doesn’t play bridge), I bet you two have had a great last 45 years and best wishes, health and happiness for many years to come.

Finally and sadly, I am not familiar with DealMaster Pro, but perhaps some other regular on this site is, and if so, can render his or her opinion on its value.

Good luck and much thanks for writing.