Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

Men might be better if we better deemed
Of them. The worst way to improve the world
Is to condemn it.

Philip James Bailey

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


Today’s deal is from a knockout match with very similar auctions in both rooms, both reaching a final contract of four spades by South on the lead of the diamond queen. At the first table, declarer took the lead in hand and went after trumps at once, leading to the spade king, followed by a second spade. When East showed out, South had no way to avoid losing a trick in each suit, for one down.

The second declarer noticed the possibility that he might survive the loss of a trump trick if he was careful, thanks to the strength of his heart spots. At this table, he also won the diamond lead in hand and cashed the trump ace. However, when both opponents followed with small cards, he continued with the heart ace then two. West followed small, and South carefully ducked, confident West did not have both top heart honors and playing for this precise position — if the suit is 3-3, the play is irrelevant, while if East has four cards, you cannot ruff out the suit in one round.

When East won with the queen and returned a club (a diamond would have been no better), declarer hopped up with the ace, then crossed to the spade king to lead the heart jack, on which he discarded his losing club.

On taking the heart king, West tried to cash a club. South ruffed, then crossed to dummy’s diamond ace. Declarer could now throw his remaining diamond loser on the heart 10 and lose just one trump trick and two hearts.

I would rarely suggest passing a 12-count, but if ever such a hand has come along, this would be it. No aces, a 4-3-3-3 pattern and no good suit to open — these all combine to make a pass the sensible action. Move the heart king into the diamond suit, and at least you get to open your long and strong suit.


♠ Q 10 7
 K 9 8 4
 Q J 2
♣ K J 6
South West North East

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


TedOctober 9th, 2018 at 11:45 pm

Hi Bobby,
For BWTA, if you are playing a 12-14 HCP NT, would you open that hand in first or second seat? Would the vulnerability make a difference?

bobbywolffOctober 10th, 2018 at 1:50 am

Hi Ted,

Believe it or not, I have a very simple answer.

If your partnership is playing a weak NT in all seats and at all vulnerabilities, that BWTA hand fits the bill. Does that mean that bad things may not happen? Definitely not, but all it means is that your partnership is prepared to accept the bitter with the better and take advantage of the good luck , but pay off to the bad.

Of course it helps to know what the reasons for playing that method:


1. Describes your hand for partner

2. Sometimes it preempts the opponents with your side stealing the hand or takes enough bidding room away from them so that they arrive at the wrong contract.

3. Allows partner to be Captain, once you have described your values in one bid and from then on only answer partner’s questions, if he doesn’t decide for himself


1. Sometimes it becomes dangerous, but only when the opponents both have the preponderance of the high cards and are willing to find that out, by coming into the bidding and penalize your side with good defense, usually after penalty doubling.

2. Tells good opponents how to defend since the enemy is also listening to the bidding and has heard your opening bid with both the hcps and the mostly balanced nature.

Overall Advantage?:

You decide

jim2October 10th, 2018 at 11:56 am

One of my partners insists on playing that weak notrump range. I call it “The Work of the Devil.”

Along with it comes various treatments for responding to doubles, mostly scrambling.

The advantages touted by my partner include:

– more frequent bidding of the 1NT limit bid with all its system tools
– responder may Pass with ranges from a bust all the way to 10+ HCPs, thus complicating opponents’ decisions

bobbywolffOctober 10th, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Hi Jim2,

Your vocal devilish partner seems objective with a pessimistic twist.

Simply stated, that devils work starts the bidding with either three or four single bids up, 1NT instead of 1 of a minor. A small percentage of that time (guess 10%) is headed toward that scramble with player’s luck the second most likely result, behind #1, the talent and, of course, experience of your specific opponents.

The first advantage he mentions IMO is slightly a disadvantage since, from an offensive viewpoint, and assuming no stress from an opponents immediate bid, your side gets an extra shot on exchanging information.

However his second advantage is, again IMO, a definite plus, since that small preemptive gain can make cowards especially out of newbies (or of course those inflicted with TOCM TM) and/or even very good opponents who run into the opening bidder’s partner having the significant lion’s share of the residue.

Advantage? Again ask the man who own’s one, a commercial so long ago I forget the product it was expected to sell, though I think it was a brand of car.

And all the above reminds me, as many things do, a quote from Shakespeare…”Much Ado About Nothing”, or, at least, instead of much, perhaps, some.