Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

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

(The atomic bomb) looks terrible but in fact it isn’t. … All reactionaries are paper tigers.

Mao Zedong

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


All this week, we are looking at different uses of the cue-bid in modern bidding. Part of the problem with deciphering how the call should be interpreted is that the word “cue-bid” is used in many different contexts. How are you to know what’s going on? Is the call an ask, a statement, a control or something else?

A good general rule is that any bid of the opponents’ suit above three no-trump promises a control. Any bid of the opponents’ suit below three no-trump, if that call does not come on the first round of the auction, is looking for a stopper for no-trump until it is proven that this meaning does not apply.

Here, therefore, North’s two-spade call asks for a spade stopper, and South is happy to oblige. When West leads a small heart against three no-trump, South must resist the knee-jerk reaction to finesse. That is the greedy play — and one you might consider at pairs. But if South yields to temptation, East will win the heart king and shift to spades, and down goes the contract.

Instead, declarer can avoid that risk by winning the heart ace and playing the king and ace of diamonds. Then when the bad break comes to light, he can play on clubs and knock out the club ace. West will win the third round and play a heart, but declarer is home free now, with the heart queen serving as an entry to his master diamond. The contract will be in jeopardy only against very unfriendly breaks in both minors.

You did not have enough to break the transfer over two diamonds, but now, just in case your partner has close to slam values, you can bid four clubs. This suggests a source of tricks in clubs and your excellent trumps and controls warrant this try to pique partner’s interest.


♠ A 7 4
 A J 2
 K 5
♣ K J 8 7 5
South West North East
1 NT Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 3 NT 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