Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

You can build a throne with bayonets, but it’s difficult to sit on it.

Boris Yeltsin

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

*15-17 points

**Starting an invitational sequence


The Daily Bulletins at the World Youth Teams often rely on input not only from the players, but also from the coaches and captains of the teams. Today’s exhibit, from the France-Finland match, was reported by Kees Tammens and provided to him by Christophe Oursel, the French coach and a strong player in his own right.

The deal features a delightful coup executed by Aleksi Aalto of the Finland team. You would certainly consider it a candidate for the shortlist of Best Play by a Junior.

North was playing a weak no-trump, so his rebid showed a balanced 15-17. South showed invitational values and could hardly refuse his own invitation at his next turn.

When West led the club jack, declarer won with the club ace and continued with the diamond queen, taken by the ace. Next came the club queen to dummy’s king. Declarer disposed of one losing club on the diamond king and carried on with a low spade to the spade queen and ace. When West played the master club 10, North followed suit, and what was East to do? If he had ruffed in, the deal would have been over, since one of declarer’s losing hearts would have disappeared, and the other would have gone on the diamond jack.

But without hesitation, East pitched a heart. Now declarer had a tricky decision in the trump suit. He played a spade to the 10, and East made his trump trick after all, with a heart still to come, for down one.

If playing negative doubles, opener must reopen with shortage when the auction gets back to him at a sensible level, whether he has a minimum or a maximum. You don’t have to double if you would pull a penalty double from your partner (for example, with king-queen-jack-fifth of diamonds and a singleton small club, when a two-diamond call is sensible). But here, double and let the chips fall where they may!


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


Iain ClimieSeptember 11th, 2019 at 2:56 pm

Hi Bobby,

Nicely played by East but South missed a trick. If East has 2C and one spade, he or she has passed with 10 red cards. How likely is this at Junior level, unless modern Juniors have gone strangely reticent. “When I were a lad” we used to bid our heads off!



Iain ClimieSeptember 11th, 2019 at 2:58 pm

As a follow-up, I’m surprised East didn’t bid 1H anyway. Maybe that refutes my suggestion?

bobbywolffSeptember 11th, 2019 at 3:32 pm

Hi Iain,

Continuing with your main theme, it could be interesting to note how different the defense would be if East had injected the one heart overcall immediately, assuming NS would still have reached the same 4 spade contract after West had raised hearts to the 2 level.

Then West would likely lead a heart with the final result dependent on how the declarer guessed the spades with, of course, the losing option of playing East for a singleton small spade, incurring the setting trick.

Everything different, only because of an early choice of deciding whether to get into the bidding or not.

These close decisions (most of us would bid 1 heart the first round) often mightily lead to different problems resulting in large swings, but the only information we glean from it, is the effect one close action makes or sometimes doesn’t.

At least to me, it emphasizes the exciting difference close decisions make when two different Easts choose two different bids, early in the auction.