Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 22nd, 2018

It’s them as take advantage that get advantage i’ this world.

George Eliot

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


Against three no-trump, West leads the spade two (low from three small in partner’s suit), and East plays the nine. How do you plan to make your contract?

If you win the first trick with the spade queen and go after diamonds, West ought to rise with the king to play a second spade. After you win the spade ace and discover that the hearts are not breaking, you will have eight tricks, but no more.

The way to avoid this unpleasant outcome is to duck in hand at trick one. If a spade is continued, you should follow low again. If East plays a third round of spades, you will cover that card and win the trick. When you play the diamond 10 to the next trick, West will win the trick with his king, but he will have no spade left to play. After winning the heart exit, you will play a second diamond to dummy’s queen and East’s ace. At this point, you can claim nine tricks: two spades, three hearts, a diamond and three clubs.

You should observe that if East doesn’t continue spades at trick two or three, you will be able to develop two diamond tricks to make your contract.

The justification for this line is that it looks like the spades are 3-5, and you need East to have the three missing spade honors. As most players would open the bidding if they had the diamond ace and king as well as this hypothetical spade suit, you should play on that assumption.

Some people would have to choose between rebidding two clubs or two diamonds with this hand, because they have a phobia about rebidding one no-trump with a singleton in partner’s suit. I fall firmly in the opposite camp; I raise partner freely with three trumps and a semi-balanced hand, so having a singleton is neither here nor there, to me. My hand suggests no-trump; I bid no-trump.


♠ 6
 Q 6 4 2
 Q J 9 6 4
♣ A K Q
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ 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


Patrick CheuJuly 6th, 2018 at 1:12 pm

Hi Bobby,Re BWTA,Easier for you to rebid 1N, most playing Acol would rebid 2D unless playing wide ranging one NT rebids of 12-16 and Crowhurst 2C asking.Perhaps a few more tens one might rebid 1N(15-16/17). Regards~Patrick.

bobbywolffJuly 6th, 2018 at 3:45 pm

Hi Patrick,

Although this choice of either rebidding 1NT or 2 diamonds, the only serious considerations, is closer at IMPs or rubber bridge (where trick score is of minor importance) when playing matchoints, at least to me, go for the gusto of a higher trick score, especially when the overall hand becomes highly playable.

Obviously certain rebids, after a 1NT choice become such as a spade rebid by partner, expecting at least two in support sometimes become awkward, but in the long run, and a combination of good play and sometimes poor defense again being aggressive in one’s choice (1NT), allows for a much higher upside (especially when partner will simply immediately either pass or raise to 2 or 3NT next).

The opponents silence is somewhat deafening in suggesting decent even breaks which again is conducive to eventually choosing NT, besides the simplicity which often accompanies that choice.

Finally, to maintain an optimistic view is another crucial component of being a winning player.

The really good news is that the above rhetoric has convinced one person, even if it hasn’t many, and, of course, that person is me.

Finally be sure to, as most say, to count your tens also and then usually choose 1NT, if that total runs between 0 to 4.

Glad to hear from you, but would prefer much more often, so quit working so hard and show up more.

TedJuly 6th, 2018 at 4:27 pm

Hi Bobby,

Also related to the BWTA hand, in first seat playing 2/1 some years ago, what would you bid with

Q AKJx 1097xx Axx ? Partner, of course, responds 1S.


Patrick CheuJuly 6th, 2018 at 4:50 pm

Hi Bobby,Really good to hear your thoughts on this lovely game of ours and thanks again for all your encouragement.:)

Iain ClimieJuly 6th, 2018 at 5:34 pm

Hi Ted,

You could always improvise with 2C. I did something similar a few years back with 4-1-5-3 playing 4 card majors after 1D – 1N. Not fancying the heart weakness, I bid 2C and partner happily gave preference with 4D and 3C. If he does leave it in a 4-3 fir, the oppo do tend to misread the hand as well.



bobbywolffJuly 6th, 2018 at 6:03 pm

Hi Ted,

Assuming, as I guess most will, you open the bidding with 1 heart. I would only raise to 2 spades, since to do otherwise is IMO too much of an overbid. And to even think about jumping to 4 clubs, assuming you (perhaps mistakenly using me as an advisor) encourage you to strike splinters off your CC, until you understood that showing singletons, while often a very important key to success, should never be abused by overbidding. However, if bridge rules were changed, allowing partner to legally go back to 2 spades, if the singleton club was not welcome (think KQx as part of a weak hand), then, and only then would I suggest using it.

At least to me, and no doubt at least some subjectivity by me, will always be present, my two favorite conventions are two way Stayman over 1NT and, you guessed it, Flannery.

Horrors, I thought you were 4-5-3-1 instead of 1-4-5-3 so strike the above as irrelevant, but still perhaps consider my answer to an entirely different question.

Now to the question you really did ask:

I would rebid 1NT (probably personally having opened the bidding 1 heart, later telling partner, (in the event of a wrong final contract) I had a diamond in with my hearts. No second choice since 2 hearts is an unwarranted overbid, and 2 clubs reminds me of the late and great Al Roth’s famous comment: “If I can just get by that bid of 2 clubs without partner passing with the wrong hand, I will be better placed”. At least to me, 2 clubs is just too much of a distortion and my nerves would not survive partner’s possible huddle as he contemplated his second bid (if any).

Sorry for my gaffe, but perhaps it will be worth it, assuming you can bear it.

This hand would be a good example to have started with (usually 2 diamonds, but sometimes 2 hearts, if you do not mind giving up 2 hearts as a weak two bid).

bobbywolffJuly 6th, 2018 at 6:04 pm

Hi Patrick,

Thanks for your kind words, but just that comment does not give you the right to not respond more frequently.

bobbywolffJuly 6th, 2018 at 6:26 pm

Hi Iain,

No question, your alleged logic (often true) slants to the percentage advantage of having 2 opponents confused compared to only 1 partner.

Probably most will agree except perhaps your partner who may have his own doubts,

Please excuse my not reading your post first, since you have referred to the “Roth” type choice of 2 clubs. Was it Shakespeare himself referring to “The play’s the thing wherein we will get the conscience of the king”?

BTW, you probably meant at the death of your post, 4 clubs and 3 diamonds instead of the opposite, but if one was afflicted with TOFCM your 4 diamonds and 3 clubs would likely be present. TOFCM (no TM yet) stands for “theory of favorable card migration.

Apologies to Jim2 for no doubt, making him feel “unloved” and me, unsympathetic.

TedJuly 6th, 2018 at 6:33 pm

Thank you, Bobby. Yes, I opened 1H and rebid 2D. (In those days opening 1D with a 1NT rebid would not have occurred to me.) Partners hand was A10xx 9xx AJxx Qx. Opening lead was singleton DQ, with 4 hearts to Q10xx behind me.

Iain ClimieJuly 6th, 2018 at 6:43 pm

Hi Bobby,

No he actually had 4D and tried to hog the hand. Shocking!



TedJuly 6th, 2018 at 6:49 pm


I considered opening a1D and rebidding 2C, but at the time thought it distorted my values too much despite partner’s objection to my opening a 4 card major in first seat.

Were you playing inverted minors? I’d have expected your partner to bid 2D rather than 1NT.

Iain ClimieJuly 6th, 2018 at 7:39 pm

Hi Ted,

No, old fashioned Acol with a moderate player this side of the pond. He could 2D but the hand was 3343 with weak diamonds so I didn’t complain.



bobbywolffJuly 7th, 2018 at 1:05 am

Hi Ted & Iain,

Serious partnerships need serious discussions and not just about the system or even the details. Rather and assuming significant experience by both of playing against worthy opposition and other worthwhile goals to be achieved the old fashioned way. Earn it honestly with much tedious work and practice real Active Ethics at all times.

Theory of blending a system together so that, for example, if one wants to try opening 1 heart with AKJx instead of one diamond with four little, both players will understand why, without having to mention or worse, have to defend the ability to doing so, but, for example, partner,, if later on defense will likely get the right opening lead instead of wrong, or even the possibility of not leading partner’s suit for fear of catching four little.

Sure, bad things happen, but usually the partnership is to blame for not taking the time to both fully realize why bad results follow certain good players, when on paper, lesser players seem to thrive.

IOW, both partners, whatever the results, must own the overall partnership performances, instead of the overly competitive idea of sorting it out individually.