Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

I am a bear of very little brain, and long words bother me.


N North
None ♠ Q 7 3 2
 K 8 2
 J 10 7 6
♣ A J
West East
♠ 10 8 6
 10 9 3
 8 5 3
♣ 9 8 3 2
♠ K 9
 J 7 6 4
 9 2
♣ K 10 7 6 4
♠ A J 5 4
 A Q 5
 A K Q 4
♣ Q 5
South West North East
    Pass Pass
2 NT Pass 3 ♣ Pass
3 ♠ Pass 4 * Pass
6 ♠ All pass    

*Slam-try for spades


Setting a trump suit after using Stayman over 1NT may not be complex, but it does require discussion. The key is that using Stayman and jumping to four no-trump after hearing a response in a major is best used as quantitative without a fit, because you really have no other way to show that hand. Conversely, to set partner’s major as trump after you find a fit, bid the other major at the three-level. Since you can’t be looking for a fit there with a five-card suit (or you’d have begun with a transfer), this simply sets trump and shows interest in slam.

In today’s deal, North-South use this identical structure over a two no-trump opener; as South, you drive to six spades after your partner shows extras. When West leads the heart ten, you determine that you will need one black suit or the other to behave well. How can you maximize your chances?

Although you can come home easily when the trump king is doubleton onside, as here, you should also be able to succeed when East has three trumps instead of two, as long as you are careful. Win the heart lead in dummy and finesse the spade jack, then cash the ace. When the king drops, draw the last trump. If it doesn’t, play three rounds of hearts, then start running the diamonds. Unless East has two or fewer hearts, he will have no exit card when he ruffs in, and he will be forced to lead a club for you. If he discards on the winning diamonds, throw him in with the third trump, and the result will be the same.

At any vulnerability and form of scoring, you should balance with one no-trump now. The range for this call over a minor-suit opening bid is approximately 11-15 points; with more, you would double and rebid one no-trump. The range for this call is admittedly wide, but your partner can ask for range and shape with a call of two clubs at his next turn.


♠ Q 7 3 2
 K 8 2
 J 10 7 6
♣ A J
South West North East
  1 Pass 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Mircea1January 22nd, 2019 at 3:24 pm

Hi Bobby and Judy,

Glad to see you’re back! Let me know if you need any help with running this site.

Bob LiptonJanuary 22nd, 2019 at 5:09 pm

Gladdaseeya, as Phil Silvers would have said.


Bobby WolffJanuary 22nd, 2019 at 5:35 pm

Hi Mircea1,

Since I have become thoroughly dedicated to our wonderful group of close bridge friends rather than admit to my life long addiction to our beautiful game, I’m very happy the latest glitch didn’t last one minute longer.

Also thanks for your offer of help, being nice to hear that you, when we are in time of need, are available. Of course, hoping to not have to go in that direction, but it is indeed refreshing to know that you are familiar with such modern tricks of the trade.

If one would only call me a computer dunce, he would be understating it.

Bobby WolffJanuary 22nd, 2019 at 5:42 pm

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the reference to Sgt. Bilko, an absolute favorite of mine. Where have all the flowers gone?

However, yes, gladdatohrrfromya!

Joe1January 23rd, 2019 at 1:44 am

FYI during the downtime, happened to stumble across an article from Sports Illustrated Vault, an archive of past issues ( from that magazine. Nicely, can search by author, surprisingly, Charles Goren had a column during 60s-70s, and interestingly the Aces and our host are frequently featured. A different era, and some different bidding, etc, but good card play is good card play. Seeing bridge from that era presented within other cultural aspects in the magazine is worth the effort. Who would have known? Now, unfortunately my local papers no longer carry a column. Neither does NYT. Bobby mentions bridge in schools, but bridge in the media would also help kindle an interest in our game.

Bobby WolffJanuary 23rd, 2019 at 2:46 am

Hi Joe1,

Yes, and more history which you (and others) may already know, Charles Goren was on the cover of Time Magazine in 1958 when it was estimated that the USA had approximately 40 million bridge players (down to about 8 million now, many of which are in old folks homes).

In 1993 when I was President of the WBF I mentioned during a trip to Beijing at the Peoples Hall of the Republic, when asked by one of their leaders, “What can we do to promote bridge”, I replied, try and teach bridge in your primary and secondary schools, to which they ask to caucas for 20 minutes. They then came back in 10 minutes and said “Done”. It took them a number of years about 5 to 10 to get it started, but now it is being taught as an elective to their students which number around 200 million.

Also in Europe there are 11 countries which teach bridge in their schools to rave notices from the students, their teachers, and IMO the best news, to the parents of the students.

In the USA, they, to my knowledge, have never even approached our National Educational system office, but, in fact, with the logic involved, legal partnership communication during the bidding, numeracy (always important), sportsmanship, ethics, and highly competitive, at least to me, has all the elements needed to be a great elective for students who love to compete.

However Horn Lake, in spite of some goosing from bridge lovers has never sent anyone to Washington with the hope of emulating what is going on in Europe and China, and why not, has never been explained (at least to me).

Yes our newspapers are having trouble staying alive and no doubt, bridge columns are not getting the best of it, but in spite of the lack of publicity and promotion I still have about 100 newspapers which have remained steadfast in keeping my bridge column alive and also some from around the world, but no thanks to the ACBL who seem to only be worried about keeping their own jobs, but not creating different ways to promote the game as more than just worthwhile as an important learning tool with a superior high side to enjoy.

Both Bill Gates and Warren Buffett love the game and will contribute if asked, but we need at least a small group or more to do the heavy lifting.

In any event, thanks for your post and let’s all hope for better things to happen.