Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Your lost friends are not dead, but gone before, Advanced a stage or two upon that road Which you must travel, in the steps they trod.


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


With 25 points between the two hands, stoppers in all suits and no major-suit fit, the tendency is to subside in three no-trump. But sometimes the contract can be tenuous, to say the least, and assumptions, even far-out ones, must be made for it to come home. This deal arose in a trial to select the team to represent the USA some years ago, and declarer was the late Michael Seamon. Seamon died shockingly young, but his talent was undeniable, and he was elected to the Hall of Fame last July.

Against three no-trump, West led the spade 10, which went to the jack and king. East returned a low spade, and Seamon put in the queen, which held. Declarer was aware that in order to fulfill his contract, he needed to rattle off eight quick tricks; if the defenders got in, they surely had three more spade tricks to take, in addition to the one already in the bag, plus the club ace.

Specifically, Seamon needed five tricks from the diamond suit, plus three from hearts — a tall order. So, at trick three, he cashed the heart king and noted the fall of the eight from West. Needing this to be from Q-8 exactly, Seamon had to assume that, being short in one red suit, West was likely to be longer in the other. So he cashed the diamond king, then successfully finessed West for the queen. The heart ace saw the queen drop, and Seamon had his nine tricks for plus 400 and a well-deserved swing.

Had the opponents not intervened, you would have rebid two clubs, of course. But here you do not have to bid — the opponents surely aren’t going to pass out one heart doubled, are they? With clubs a relatively unlikely place for your side to play, and given your lack of aces, I think I would pass and see what happens next. I’d be prepared to introduce my clubs at my next turn, maybe.


♠ Q 4 2
 K J 10 6 3
♣ K Q 10 3
South West North East
1 Pass 1 Dbl.

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


Iain ClimieSeptember 4th, 2019 at 12:50 pm

Hi Bobby,

How much more would you want before redoubling on BWTA, assuming that the redouble is penalty-oriented? SKJx instead of SQxx perhaps? It does look like the sort of hand where RHO might easily regret coming in.



Bill CubleySeptember 4th, 2019 at 2:26 pm

Michael Seamon and Shannon Cappelletti both agreed there was worse bidding than mine when I compared a daring +1660 slam to our teammates scoring -170. There were some comments that I left very little room for worse bidding.

bobbywolffSeptember 4th, 2019 at 3:02 pm

Hi Iain,

While, as virtually always, you are tuned in to the right channel, however, your values are substantially short of what a redouble in this spot, are expected to be.

Perhaps an ace or so short, and although a pass appears to be benign, it does convey an opinion that you seek, at least at this time, no reason to bid, leaving being short in hearts and lacking a desire to rebid your opening suit among that specific information.

However, while armed with the above information and, at this time being unlimited in value, your OX (sometimes used playfully, but other times not, substituted for descriibing one’s partner) may exactly know what to do, when and if, he or she has been dealt a hand to do it with.

Again, in order to redouble one needs to have at least an intermediate + hand (17 hcps as an approximate minimum) which defending at the one or two level, without partner having a reasonable hand, misfitting with you, but good defensively may keep your side from taking at least approximately half the tricks to succeed with their chosen suit as trump.

However, my opinion is only hopefully just slanted to the norm, and not always universally agreed. Therefore side features, such as knowing habits of your partner and, of course your adversaries, can be valuable in your choice of actions, so far be it from me to preach
strict rules when some other players track record, such as yours, is sensational enough to bend them (time after time).

No one can argue that good results will always beat doing what is expected.

bobbywolffSeptember 4th, 2019 at 3:14 pm

Hi Bill,

Very interesting, not the least of which for anyone to describe +1660, as involving anything less than marvelous, much less worst. Like everything competitive in life, good results rank first, second and third in fulfilling expectations, with other circumstances like substance and form certainly not even in the same breath.

However the above does not and should not keep that winning competitor to examine what happened at some future date. That is particularly so if he or she has some masochistic tendencies.

Also good future luck and for gosh sake, it is not mandatory to keep those keen eyes and ears always wide open.

Bill CubleySeptember 4th, 2019 at 5:17 pm


In BWTA the TO doubler’s partner with a virtual Yarborough will be begging to play at the one level. Maybe he will bid a 3 card spade suit. Well he will not go for 4,000 as a partner did to me by doubling rather than bidding a 7 card heart suit. Only 4,000 because I made a successful intra-finesse to save 600.

The good news is he bought my entries for our next 3 outings.

bobbywolffSeptember 5th, 2019 at 4:36 am

Hi Bill,

Glad to hear that since he bought the entries for your next three outings, you thought he was doing you a favor, rather than it felt so good when it stopped.