Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

‘It’s always best on these occasions to do what the mob do.’ ‘But suppose there are two mobs?’ suggested Mr. Snodgrass. ‘Shout with the largest,’ replied Mr. Pickwick.

Charles Dickens

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


After East’s opening bid of one spade, South has something in hand for his overcall of one no-trump. North might now bid game, but he does have terrible spotcards. When he merely invites, South can bid game anyway.

West leads the spade 10, and South sees that he has the top two spades and three hearts, with the club ace providing a sixth trick. South must plan to get his three additional tricks from diamonds, and his only chance is to find the doubleton diamond ace in one opponent’s hand or the other. He must first investigate which opponent has that ace.

Since his side has 26 high-card points between them, there are only 14 points left for East and West. East should have at least 11 of these points to justify his vulnerable opening bid, so he is overwhelmingly likely to hold the missing ace.

So, South wins the first trick with the spade queen and enters dummy with a heart to lead the first diamond from dummy. East plays the diamond nine, and South wins with his king. He must now play back a low diamond and contribute a low diamond from the board, hoping that East will be forced to play the ace. When luck is with declarer and East’s ace pops up, South has succeeded in establishing diamonds for a loss of only one trick.

East can return the spade king, but South can win and run for home with nine winners now.

Facing a partner you can trust, the most likely problem you have here is whether to compete beyond three clubs if the opponents find a heart or spade fit at the three-level. Your choice is between a simple raise to three clubs and a two-heart cue-bid to show about a limit raise. I would take the cautious position and let partner take it from there. To do more, I’d need maybe a red king in place of one of the queens.


♠ 5 4
 A Q 7
 Q 8 6 2
♣ J 8 6 3
South West North East
  1 2 ♣ Dbl.

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


Ken MooreDecember 5th, 2018 at 3:58 am


I have a question on cue bids. In this case of BWTA, for example, if South held Hearts A Q xxx, and the hand has the same 9-10 points, I assume you would make the same 2H bid, but this time as a real bid. My questions is: How does partner know a 2H cue bid from a real 2H bid?

Ken MooreDecember 5th, 2018 at 4:08 am

I need to expand my previous question with this. Most people that I play with would be completely misled by a cue bid made before agreement on a suit, as in this case. Once you agree on a suit, you can announce controls but before that, how would partner know?

bobbywolffDecember 5th, 2018 at 12:34 pm

Hi Ken,

Once West opens the bidding 1 heart, then if South held AQxxx he would never bid hearts to play (with usually 5+ hearts, or even 4) held by his LHO. However if he had enough strength, plus a club fit (unlikely) he may still bid hearts as a cue bid (forward going and an inferential fit), but still only one meaning, enough strength, and although he had length in front of a heart bid (not ideal) his bid would only encourage partner since he deemed his hand strong enough to be worth it.

IOW, same motive, but unusual because of the heart length.

Whenever a player bids a suit the opponents have initiated, with only a few exceptions, usually involved with minors (since many open three card minors, allowing an opponent to sometimes have great length and wanting to bid positively in that suit), but when it instead turns into bidding an opponents 5 card suit or longer, then logically it cannot and should not have anything to do with length in that suit.

The logic of expert bridge demands the above, and that discipline offers the best reason why bridge is being taught in the schools in so many countries around the world wherein the best and brightest students tend to pick up the sense of it, and fairly quickly (often after a somewhat rocky start) showing off their born numeracy which, at least to some, will emerge early,, thus allowing that blessing to become useful in many different ways later in life.

If you have further questions involving our above discussion, please do not hesitate to continue.