Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

Henceforth I ask not good fortune, I choose good fortune.

Walt Whitman

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

*transfer to spades


Following a one-no-trump opening call, what do transfer breaks mean after a red-suit transfer? Some use the jump to three as a maximum with four trumps, and a call of two no-trump as three good trumps and a maximum. Additionally, though, new suits can be used to show a source of tricks (or a doubleton, if you prefer). Regardless, you’d expect South to play in four spades here.

After the diamond queen is led to the king and ace, the defenders have two choices, each producing an elegant winning line for declarer.

Say East continues with a second diamond. Then, when West wins and shifts to a spade, declarer draws trumps and plays the club king, a club to the ace and a third club. If East follows, declarer puts in the 10 and claims 10 tricks, because if West wins, he is endplayed to concede a ruff-sluff or to lead a heart into the tenace, and declarer can discard a heart from dummy on the master club. If East shows out on the third club, declarer takes the queen and leads a fourth club, discarding from dummy to endplay West again.

What if East shifts to a heart at trick two? Declarer takes the ace, draws trumps, ruffs out the clubs if necessary, then leads his second diamond from hand, to endplay West in a different way.

East’s best defense at trick two is to lead the diamond nine. If the 10 and eight were switched, East could retain the lead and exit in either hearts or clubs to have a chance to defeat the game.

North is unlikely to have even as much as the doubleton ace in spades. Since he did not rebid his clubs initially, he might have given preference to spades at his third turn if he could. You have a choice of forcing calls in the red suits to probe: Three diamonds looks best. You can revert to five clubs if partner raises, but you do not want to suggest half a heart stopper, as a call of three hearts might do.


♠ K Q 7 5 3
 5 4 2
 K 5
♣ A 3 2
South West North East
    1 ♣ 1
1 ♠ 2 Pass Pass
Dbl. Pass 3 ♣ 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


jim2October 23rd, 2018 at 1:03 pm

On BWTA, I think I would Pass.

Pard does not have spade support or a heart stopper, and probably not six clubs. Given the opposition bidding, this seems to suggest North has a minimum 2-2-4-5.

Add in West’s failure to Redouble and East’s failure to bid 3H, suggests North has a heart honor. This, in turn, suggests something like this:


This makes me think 3C is our last chance at a plus.

bobbywolffOctober 23rd, 2018 at 3:08 pm

Hi Jim2,

Since my sometimes expected duty is to play devil’s advocate, I’ll step up to the plate. However since your bridge judgment usually is the equivalent of a 98 mph fastball, I’ll hold it only to a brief pitch.

Methinks my double, as responder, is the equivalent of asking for more information to go with your already suggested opening bid, clubs, followed by the non-forcing rebid of pass, usually denying 3 spades (even while not playing the popular (but not by me) “support double”. After all my 1 spade bid in competition and over a 1 heart overcall should and did, suggest 5+ of the “boys”.

Next, and although holding the minimum opening bid that you have already confirmed, it would seem that, while holding the Kx of their suit, that 2NT would be a more appropriate 3rd round rebid. Call it, when faced with a choice, “running for daylight”.

IOW, damn it, “if there is any game here, let’s go all out to find it”. Also, and while trying to present a delicate case, my hand (the responder) is unlimited, meaning all I need is a stop in their suit for the nine tricks which may be laydown (or almost) while holding both the two minor suit queens instead of the only one I did have, spades.

Additionally, and sort of a closing argument, perhaps your hand may have opted for a slightly distorted 1 diamond opening instead of 1 club, more easily planning for a 2 club rebid, which is misleading, but often successfully pulled off under the heading of
“lesser of evils”, already known as the catch-all excuse for all losing bridge actions.

Finally, although I suspect that you have made a three point basket with your merely passing 3 clubs instead of “flying to others which you know not of” I feel fulfilled in challenging whatever you, in that difficult position to which you have been railroaded, have explained.

And for all those excellent bridge players who will agree with not only your choice of bids, but your reasoning which goes with, I can challenge them with my rant which got a plug in for the USA’s three major popular sports.

Finally with your TOCM TM affliction, yes you would cheerfully buy the hand at that low contract, but with the horrible suit breaks you always receive, down you would go.

Mircea1October 23rd, 2018 at 7:53 pm

What if West started with Jxx in clubs (and one less diamond)?

bobbywolffOctober 24th, 2018 at 1:43 am

Hi Mircea1,

First, we have missed your presence and welcome you back.

By the time declarer is getting ready to play the clubs, the diamonds are stripped, so when declarer finesses the third club into the jack, West will be endplayed, forcing him to either lead a diamond, which allows a heart to be thrown from dummy and the other losing heart thrown on the 4th good club from declarer.

If East instead switches to a heart at trick 2 after winning the king of diamonds from dummy, East then rises with the ace draws trump and then leads the 10 of diamonds also endplaying West into having to lead either a club (into declarer’s tenace) or a heart which then sets up the queen, either of which line will be the contract trick.

Please don’t stay away this long next time.

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