Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.


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


When South opens one heart, North is too weak to respond at the two-level. His one-no-trump response merely shows that he is strong enough to keep the bidding open. South rebids two hearts, and North has to leave him there, rather than search for a better spot.

The defense leads spades, and when East wins his ace, he might shift to a club, but continuing spades is hardly absurd. Perhaps West might now shift to clubs himself, but he plays a diamond to East’s ace, and now comes the club shift. This is the defenders’ last chance: To set the contract, West must follow with the king, not the jack – but that is far from obvious.

If he does not, declarer wins the ace, takes the spade jack, pitching his diamond honor, then cashes the diamond queen to discard a club, and ruffs a diamond with the seven. When he exits with his losing club, West must win and help reduce South’s trumps by returning his last spade.

At this point, South is down to four trumps. He must lose a trick to the king, but does not want to lose an additional trick to the 10. His best chance is to lead the queen, and, when that holds, to lead the jack. West must take the jack and return a trump, whereupon South scores his ace and nine, to take the last two tricks.

Note that if South had taken the heart ace before leading the heart queen, West would let the queen hold. He would then be in position to win the last two tricks with the king and 10.

Do not be fooled into thinking, “That is a cue-bid, so it must be based on club fit.” Doubling then bidding a suit, even if it is one already bid on your left, is natural. So your partner has at least 17 HCP with a good heart suit. You have already shown values, so a simple call of two no-trump here seems right. That leaves room to get back to clubs, if necessary.


♠ J 9 6
 Q 9 6 5 2
♣ A 10 8 5 2
South West North East
Pass 1 Dbl. 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


bobbywolffAugust 1st, 2018 at 1:28 pm

Hi Everyone,

Today’s hand, although in a sense, complicated with distinct offensive and defensive choices, symbolizing an important feature of expert play, and also, when available, counter defense to that play.

Not unlike professional dancing with lithe, melodic, athletic and well-toned bodies representing superior dancing and knowledge of end positions necessary for winning bridge. endings.

Much is constantly said about the advantage of playing 2nd and 4th rather than 1st and third at various stages while declaring a hand to which today’s hand features at the death.

More often than most realize, especially with hoped for card reading by an astute declarer, the opportunity for doing so is present, sometimes with bidding or lack of same giveaways, but often only with proper technique, which broad brushes its occurring.

One only has to learn that it is always advantageous for the opponents to have to break a suit first or if not, then at the propitious time, which allows the gain by doing so. Today’s hand, with its myriad card combinations all serve as a prelude to what many may realize is a beautiful and well earned end play.

And to make it even more respectful, the contract trick.

jim2August 1st, 2018 at 3:24 pm

On BWTA, I doubt I could bid 2N at the table with that void. The last thing I want to do is imply to partner that I might hold a heart or two. I would like to bid 1N but would do so if and only if partner and I had discussed precisely this auction leaving me absatively certain that partner would hear support denial up to and including zero hearts.

I think I would hold my nose and bid 3C, judging it the best way NOT to hear 3H, as well I might over 2N.

bobbywolffAugust 1st, 2018 at 4:01 pm

Hi Jim2,

So many times in a long bridge career, one meets (rather, runs into) a conundrum he or she has never experienced before.

The difference here, is that partner probably thinks (feels) that his LHO opponent is psyching and by holding his AKQ10x in hearts will not fall victim. However, from your responding position, methinks that the old “saw” of signing off (passing) before the doubling starts, definitely has at least some merit. and that AKQ10x could morph into a sixth or even seventh heart (but not quite that good a suit), but wanting to show a very good hand before then jumping in hearts.

At any rate, you as an innocent and well intended partner, may keep in mind that more often than one may expect (these situations do arise at all levels in bridge, and having an experienced partner is worth much), by cutting the losses will produce a relatively good result compared to what may happen if our partnership declares an internal bridge war with each other.

At any rate, perhaps measuring partner’s
stubborn capacity may (should) influence what we do next.

Finally, a good rule of thumb may be the longer it takes for one or the other partner to pass, the more immature that partnership has become.

However in this situation, after whatever happens, let the winner explain.

jim2August 1st, 2018 at 5:03 pm

If I passed, partner would likely hold one of several TOCM ™ hands. One example:




Ken MooreAugust 1st, 2018 at 7:25 pm


I would agree with Jim2. But I would guess that many years of competition causes you to “feel” that this is the right thing to do rather than an analysis of how to bid.

bobbywolffAugust 1st, 2018 at 10:14 pm

Hi Ken,

A key phrase to somewhat simplify your comment might be: “Searching for the best possible result, rather than the best result possible”.

IOW, catering to the human element, always an unfortunate condition in both bridge bidding and partnership defense, to which the combination of blind flying (not knowing specifically what partner has for his bid or defense) by definition results in guesswork. Then guesswork usually resembles a large touch of randomness, but is directly responsible for the score.

Result then is likely best handled, searching for victory by consistent small steps instead of gigantic gambles, but never losing perspective, with 100% concentration. NO EASY TASK!

bobbywolffAugust 1st, 2018 at 10:34 pm

Hi Jim2,

My answer would be yes and no, while yours would be no and yes (if somehow you could fool the TOCM TM bridge god).

However for your second illustration, methinks a bid of 3 hearts (not 2), would be in order to signal please continue, since we haven’t yet sorted out, all of our votes. To that request, I would jump to 5 clubs and anxiously await the dummy.

However, when playing against worthwhile keen competition I would much rather even not then, get doubled.