Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, October 27th, 2018

Nature reaches its culmination in humans, but human consciousness has not its essence in itself or nature.

Carl Linnaeus

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


At the 1998 Cap Gemini World Pairs Invitational, Tony Forrester and Zia Mahmood’s once-huge lead was down to single digits as the final board hit the table.

The Italian pair in second place had also reached three no-trump here, but Tor Helness, West at that table, led the heart jack, in response to his partner’s opening bid. Declarer won with the king and guessed poorly on the clubs. Back came the heart nine, ducked all around, then a diamond to the king. That disrupted declarer’s communications; he now had no way to generate a ninth trick.

At the critical table, though, on the auction shown, Forrester reached three no-trump after the opponents’ nebulous club and negative response. West, Krzysztof Martens, led the diamond 10 to the king, East unblocking the queen. Forrester cashed the club ace and played another club to the jack. He continued in diamonds, throwing a heart from dummy and leaving Marek Szymanowski, East, on play. He made the natural-looking lead of the spade queen (he needed to shift to a heart to set the game), and Forrester put up the king.

He then took the diamond ace, discarding another heart, and cashed his clubs. Szymanowski had to keep three hearts, thus only two spades. Forrester was able to lead a spade, win the heart return with the ace and play another spade. The heart king and his long spade represented his eighth and ninth tricks.

Had the swing on this board gone the other way, it would have reversed the final positions.

There is no reason to be overly complicated here. You have invitational values, and a call of two no-trump shows these values with hearts and clubs, allowing partner to pick a final contract. This hand is just too good for a one-trump rebid and is certainly not worth a force to game.


♠ 9 8 3
 A 8 7 6 3
♣ A 9 8 6
South West North East
    1 Pass
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


Iain ClimieNovember 10th, 2018 at 11:02 am

Hi Bobby,

What was the scoring method used in this event, please (and see also Jim2’s comment yesterday)? I’m guessing there was an IMPs element / Butler involved rather than strictly match point pairs based on today’s and yesterday’s posts.



Bobby WolffNovember 10th, 2018 at 2:45 pm

Hi Iain,

Although I am not 100% certain, unless it had changed its format markedly by 1998 (very doubtful for many reasons), it was strictly IMPs, not Butler (dual) nor, of course only matchpoints.

While matchpoints at hundreds of bridge clubs in the USA and, no doubt, in many other areas of the world, is the game of choice, because of its competitive nature, less complicated scoring, and simplified goals it is hardly ever chosen when pureness of effort and bridge as it was originally conceived (Auction Bridge its father and Bridge Whist its grandfather) is desired.

IOW, amount of gain, rather than frequency of gain, trumps most, if not all, of real bridge loving veterans attention.

Others, of course, disagree and prefer the fight for overtricks, suit denomination influence, and other competitive differences, although most will admit that IMPs for tournaments and rubber bridge for social and money games, brings out the best our beloved game has to offer.

Finally, as a bridge writer, we try and feature IMPs, and sometimes carelessly or not, will certainly only directly mention matchpoints, if, in fact, that is the method of scoring deployed.

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