Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, July 6th, 2019

He who resolves never to ransack any mind but his own, will soon be reduced from mere barrenness to the poorest of all imitations; he will be obliged to repeat himself.

Sir Joshua Reynolds

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

*shortness, agreeing spades


After a Stayman inquiry, North jumps to four clubs, a splinter bid showing slam interest with short clubs and spade fit. Once you cue-bid the diamond ace, North drives to the small slam in spades. A diamond lead might leave you in a bad spot, but West leads a trump. Now you must take advantage of your lucky break!

You will need four tricks from hearts to have any chance of bringing slam home, so hearts must break. You can score four trumps, four hearts and the minor-suit aces without a struggle. But to generate the two extra tricks, you must ruff two clubs in dummy.

If trumps are 3-2, you can win the first trick in either hand. However, if trumps are 4-1, you must win the first trick in dummy with the ace. Suppose the full deal looks like the layout shown.

At trick two, you cash dummy’s club ace, but then you must duck a heart. Suppose West wins and exits with a trump. After winning in hand with the jack, ruff a club. Then return to hand with a low heart to the king to ruff a second club. After returning to hand one more time by playing a diamond to your ace, draw West’s remaining trumps with the king and queen while throwing diamonds from dummy. You will take the last three tricks with dummy’s three heart winners.

Caution! If you win the first trick in hand, you will lose either a club trick or a trump, to end up at least one trick short of your contract.

Did you plan to make a natural call of two no-trump here? It is a natural reaction to make a call mean what you want to it to mean – Humpty Dumpty would sympathize! In fact a two no-trump call should be unusual here, for the minors. The likelihood your side can make three no-trump after this start is really small, so using two no-trump as natural here is inefficient. I’d pass, reluctantly.


♠ K Q J 6
 K 6 2
 A 6
♣ Q 8 7 5
South West North East
  1 ♠ Pass 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


Bill CubleyJuly 20th, 2019 at 1:35 pm

I hope you are enjoying the NABC. You certainly are saving on booking a room. 🙂 Annie won’t let me go.

Bob LiptonJuly 20th, 2019 at 2:17 pm

Today’s bidding problem is a good one. However, what do you do when partner doubles in pass out seat?. I think the choices are between Pass and 3 No Trump. I favor pass, but red against white, I’d bid 3NT.


A.V.Ramana RaoJuly 20th, 2019 at 3:15 pm

Hi Dear Mr.Wolff
I thought I should refrain from posting but curiosity overcame. How is that in the column line and BWTA , south holds precisely same cards. Just too much of a coincidence

Iain ClimieJuly 20th, 2019 at 11:30 pm


The column uses one of the 4 hands from the main hand for BWTA or LWTA problems. Check back over a few hands to see what I mean.



A.V.Ramana RaoJuly 21st, 2019 at 6:36 am

Hi lain
Thanks. After your post , I thumbed thru previous columns . Perhaps I should not have posted

SlarJuly 21st, 2019 at 9:43 pm

I am not familiar with that treatment in BWTA. My understanding is that 2NT is unusual only as a passed hand.

PaulJuly 22nd, 2019 at 12:58 pm

On the column line is it ok for N to splinter with club ace?Regards Paul

JudyJuly 22nd, 2019 at 7:59 pm

We are having trouble setting out laptop up at the hotel. Hang in. We are working on it.

bobbywolffJuly 23rd, 2019 at 6:32 pm

Hi Bill,

Since Annie never contacted Judy and me, we decided to go. If one tries to commute it either means he (or they) are very young or more likely,
just nutzoid.

Thanks for the well wishes and best to Annie. We will miss you.

bobby wolffJuly 23rd, 2019 at 6:37 pm

Hi Bob,

Yes it is close and very unlikely tto occur, but since declarer’s play is much easier than defense, I agree with your choice of 3NT.

bobby wolffJuly 23rd, 2019 at 6:40 pm

Hi Bill,

Since we didn’t hear from Annie, Judy and I decided to attend. However to commute must mean that all players opting to so do must be under 35 or, if not, just plain nutzoid.

However we do miss you and best to Annie.

bobby wolffJuly 23rd, 2019 at 6:46 pm

Hi AVRR and Iain,

Yes, as Iain has pointed out, that has sort of been a calling card of our
column presentation. Thanks for noticing.

bobby wolffJuly 23rd, 2019 at 6:51 pm

Hi Slar,

Deciding those types of borderline decisions are necessary for that partnership to discuss and agree.

bobby wolffJuly 23rd, 2019 at 6:53 pm

Hi Paul,

Another close decision which is sometimes decided, if having extras on the side, even with a small advantage, yes, go ahead and splinter, but if stretching, then do not