Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Truth always rests with the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion.

Søren Kierkegaard

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

*New Minor Forcing


After North’s one-no-trump rebid, South used the New-Minor Forcing inquiry of two diamonds. This call promised invitational or better values. North’s rebid of two spades denied four hearts and promised three-card spade support, after which South leapt slightly ambitiously to game.

When West led the diamond jack, declarer weighed up his options thoughtfully. He would surely need a favorable trump break, but even if hearts were 4-3, that would still only get him to nine tricks. Four trumps, two hearts, a heart ruff and the minor-suit aces would come to nine. He would therefore need to make all five of his own trumps, his four side-suit winners and a heart ruff to bring the total to 10.

At trick two, South played a club to the ace, then ruffed a club. After cashing dummy’s trump ace and king, he ruffed another club. Then declarer crossed his fingers before cashing the heart ace and king and ruffing a heart. When dummy’s small trump held, he had nine tricks. For his last piece of good luck, he led the club jack from dummy and scored his trump en passant.

If East ruffed high, declarer would throw a heart from hand and eventually score his remaining trump for his 10th trick. In practice, East discarded a diamond, allowing declarer to score the game-going trick by ruffing the club jack.

Had declarer ruffed dummy’s fourth club before ruffing a heart, East could have pitched a heart and later over-ruffed the third club.

You certainly have a maximum hand for a raise to three diamonds, and your three small spades are a positive feature on this auction, in that you can infer most of your cards ought to be working. But it would be overly optimistic to try for game. The rule that “when everybody is bidding, neither side can make game” is a pretty good one. Simply raise to three diamonds for the time being.


♠ J 8 4
 J 10 5
 K Q 9 6
♣ Q 8 7
South West North East
  1 ♠ 2 2 ♠

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


A.V.Ramana RaoMay 1st, 2019 at 2:27 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Perfect case for elopement ( lighter side: South sees that all dames are with EW and has no option but to elope )

Bobby WolffMay 1st, 2019 at 3:59 pm


You’ve got the right ceremony and the right game. You’ve located the dames and after pulling off the right technique you’ll be as happy as the groom.

Especially by showing his bride a new technique to enjoy to which she might not have been privy.

Of course the queen of hearts must now bow down to the one with clubs who has become the main attraction. Oh well, next time the author of the bridge column will have enough sense to know which dame to feature.

Thanks for the romantic interlude.

Bob LiptonMay 1st, 2019 at 4:24 pm

The elopement also works on many hands in which West holds a singleton quack.


Bobby WolffMay 1st, 2019 at 5:58 pm

Hi Bob,

Yes, it might be possible, especially if you are talking about the singleton quack of spades in West’s hand, but with these hands and their individual holdings outside trump, it may also depend on that in order to come down to a winnable ending.

Thanks for the addition.