Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, February 15th, 2019

A little more than a little is by much too much.

William Shakespeare

S North
None ♠ J 10 3 2
 A 8
 A Q 4
♣ 8 7 5 2
West East
♠ 9 8 7 6
 J 10 5 4 3
 J 5
♣ K 9
♠ Q 5 4
 K Q 9 7
 8 7 6 3 2
♣ 6
♠ A K
 6 2
 K 10 9
♣ A Q J 10 4 3
South West North East
1 ♣ Pass 1 ♠ Pass
2 Pass 3 ♣ Pass
4 ♣ Pass 6 ♣ All pass


South has a tricky call at his second turn, and rather than rebid two no-trump with two small in an unbid suit, he invents a diamond suit to show his extras through a reverse. Yes, a simple rebid of three clubs would not be that much of an underbid.

The continuation over a reverse in an uncontested auction is one that is the subject of much controversy. In the past, everything that sounded non-forcing would have been construed as such. But a more popular style these days would be to use a call of two no-trump (or even two hearts) as artificial and setting up non-forcing auctions. Thus, North’s call of three clubs shows a game-forcing hand with support, and when South re-raises himself to four clubs, North decides to take a shot at slam.

After a heart lead, South wins the ace and is faced with a possible loser in trump and an immediate loser in hearts. Instead of taking an immediate club finesse, South follows a line to give himself an extra chance with almost no risk. He wins the heart ace, cashes his top spades, then leads a diamond to dummy and plays a third spade. Whether or not he should let this run if a small spade appears from East on the third round of the suit, the sight of East’s queen is enough to gladden declarer’s heart. He ruffs with the ten, cashes the club ace, and leads a diamond to dummy to play the winning spade, pitching his heart, and losing only to the club king.

Note: six clubs is easier to make than three no-trump!

A singleton in partner’s help-suit is all well and good, but with only three trumps, you may need to find him short in diamonds to make game good. You can consult your partner here by bidding three hearts, and he will know that if he has heart length, it will be helpful to the cause.


♠ Q 5 4
 K Q 9 7
 8 7 6 3 2
♣ 6
South West North East
    1 ♠ Pass
2 ♠ 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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


jim2March 1st, 2019 at 1:22 pm

That hand was dealt three years ago in my ill-fated Mud Cup Open Pairs. I was South and the only one in 6C to go down, and I did so after adopting the column text line of play.

I was so proud of myself after the QS dropped until West discarded on the AC.

Everyone else, of course, just took the club finesse.

It is small consolation to see my line now being called the better one.

Iain ClimieMarch 1st, 2019 at 1:40 pm

Hi Jim2,

Many condolences, and note that I’ve now discovered a mutant form of TOCM – TOOM, as described in Wednesday’s posts. It got me again last night, from the same player that doubled a natural 1D with Ax x AJ9xxx KQxx (!!) the other night and found her partner with AJ10 to 8 clubs instead of a more likely jump heart or spade response. If it happens again next Tuesday (next session at that club), I’m panicking.



jim2March 1st, 2019 at 2:15 pm

As well you should!

Our posts on this blog have been side-by-side many times over the last few years … you think TOCM(tm) might be contagious???

Maybe you have contracted a mutated strain???

jim2March 1st, 2019 at 2:16 pm

Hmmm, I forgot the space?


Iain ClimieMarch 1st, 2019 at 2:21 pm

It is looking that way …. HELP!! I’ll post next Weds about whether I ran into the same player again and something similar happened.

bobbywolffMarch 1st, 2019 at 6:07 pm

Hi Jim2 & Iain,

All night, here in a Western time zone, I stayed up, trying to do research on Iain’s TOOM, an offshoot from Jim2’s TOCM TM, and supposedly, although a mutation, is supposed to be as devastating bridgewise as Jim2’s vicious malady.

My discovery is of note since TOOM actually stands for Theory of Outstanding Mallifluousness, an extremely positive form of TOCM TM and which translates bridge misery into bridge Nirvana. For example, Iain’s hand of last night resulted (or could have) in an unbelievably great result for his side since when he opened 1 diamond while holding s. KQxx, h, J10xx, d. KQ9xx c. void and heard his LHO make a highly questionable (synonym for stupid) take out double while holding . S, Ax, h. K, d. AJ10xxx, c. KQxx, catching his partner with s. xx, h. Q, d. xx, c. AJ10xxxxx leaving Iain’s partner with: s. J10xxx, h. Axxxxxx, d. void, c. x.

As we can all now see that Iain’s partnership was now cold for either a spade or heart small slam to which my guess is that they either voluntarily bid it (no doubt they together are a terrific partnership) or were pushed into bidding it, likely doubled, bid and made, for still another huge victory for TOOM.

And, if so, it definitely shows what a hugely positive factor Jim2 is for a bridge world to create such happiness (albeit for others, not him) causing him to no doubt, go down as the greatest, or almost, benefactors to the game itself for creating such thrills even while only playing in some nameless games around the world.

Imagine when Jim2’s influence reaches the World Championship and one of them is decided by either TOCM TM or TOOM what a story it will be, rivaling all the world wide cheating scandals, some of which are yet to be prosecuted or at least the properly very strong punishment (life banishment) which should be meted.

And now to catch up on my sleep, or instead, was I just dreaming?

Yes Iain, all close by bridge writers need to follow your every venture, since perhaps the battle is joined between TOOM and TOCM TM.

Iain ClimieMarch 1st, 2019 at 7:01 pm

Hi Bobby,

Thanks but I suspect TOCM is still the original and worst. Have you seen the news on Helgemo though? Not what you expect and puts my concerns in perspective!



bobbywolffMarch 1st, 2019 at 7:21 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes I have .. and ever since 1991 in Ann Arbor, Michigan when I was the Captain of the USA Junior Team and he was the star player from the Norway Juniors, I have gotten to know him and highly respect him as one of the best ever world bridge players and a totally honest and actively ethical player.

Other lesser glitches to which he has been subjected to (likely of his own making) are no never mind with me, since most codgers like me have witnessed and been privy to many of them to which I tend to overlook as irrelevant.

However, I do hate to see bad things happen to him since both he and his long time partner, Tor Helness are fierce credits to our game, the opposite of which are threatening to cause tournament bridge to
vanish from the face of the earth due to the failure to strongly discipline the too many bad guys who are nothing but common criminals while masquerading as top bridge players .. cheating in every way possible.

Sorry for the negativity, and I only represent one man’s opinion, but if anything, I haven’t explained it as strongly as I have felt it.

Honest bridge is just too tough a game for cheaters to not be dealt with in the strongest possible manner.

jim2March 1st, 2019 at 8:52 pm

I suspect Eddie Kantar would argue that one Bermuda Bowl WAS decided by TOCM ™.

(While you were in the other room.)

Iain ClimieMarch 1st, 2019 at 9:18 pm

Hi Bobby,

As far as I can tell, there seems to have been some kind of medical mix up, no suggestion that it involved anything performane enhancing or (worse) ethical concerns. I hope your words reach him and give him some support at this difficult time.

I remember you praising Andrew Robson’s qualities including his impeccable ethics. Unsubtly I sent him a link to that (I knew him many years ago) and he was delighted. Your integrity and qualities are unquestioned, so I hope they help Gair Hegelmo.



Mircea1March 1st, 2019 at 9:40 pm

Hi all,

So what is the verdict with this board at single dummy? Is the finesse the best line of play?

jim2March 1st, 2019 at 9:54 pm

Mircea1 –

If you mean the column hand, the text is the best line …

… though TOCM ™ will always get me.

bobbywolffMarch 2nd, 2019 at 2:41 am

Others may fill in the blanks:

1. If that hand can be made, he will make it.

2. If that hand can produce a distribution which will set it, count on it, because it will.

Both declarers should be (drum roll)–Jim2!