Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 30th, 2019

How can a rational being be ennobled by anything that is not obtained by its own exertions?

Mary Wollstonecraft

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


This deal from last year’s World Youth Teams in China was originally reported by its victim, Australian junior Matt Smith.

North played the hand in three no-trump successfully at 16 of the 18 tables. After a friendly spade or club lead, the contract came home almost every time. But Maxim Chodacki was declarer as South against Australia on an auction where North’s one-club call had temporarily silenced East, whereupon the jump to two diamonds was natural and game forcing, keeping East out of the auction altogether.

Jamie Thompson led a safe low heart to the jack and queen. Declarer advanced the spade six and let it run to East’s queen. Back came a heart, and declarer won in dummy to lead a diamond to the queen and ace. Declarer now cashed a second top diamond, then crossed to the heart ace and advanced the spade 10. When Matt Smith ducked this, declarer let it run!

Now declarer could cash his winners in the red suits, ending in dummy, to endplay East with the fourth round of spades for the game-going trick. Had East covered the second spade, declarer would simply have taken his diamonds, then set up his spade winner. East could temporarily escape the endplay by exiting with the fourth spade to dummy, but dummy would then advance the club king and eventually collect a club trick in the ending.

Technically, a low spade to the seven at trick two would have been safer, since West could have covered the six and set the game.

You may have only a 14-count, but slam in diamonds is easy to imagine if partner has nothing wasted in clubs. The way to make a slam try and stay safely low if necessary is to bid four clubs, showing shortage in clubs and letting partner decide whether to go high or low. Hearts is likely to play better than diamonds — you should be able to pitch partner’s slow spade losers on your diamonds.


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


jim2September 13th, 2019 at 12:26 pm

In BWTA, what should North’s second bid be with:


bobbywolffSeptember 13th, 2019 at 4:18 pm

Hi Jim2,

Although it could cause me internal consternation, I would, in a flash, and with no hesitation raise to 2 hearts, but in the modern world of relative youngish bidding theorists, they mostly, if no singleton is held, prefer a rebid of 1NT with fewer than four card support for partner’s bid major.

Therefore if the original responder is dealt; s. xx, h. Kxxxx, d. Kxx, c. Kxx, at least 1NT presumably down (if left to play) with 2 hearts+ likely cold and if the opponents then compete in spades they will usually take either 7 or possibly 8 tricks, but hearts the other way with their 5-3 fit, between 8 or 9,

And if partner is dealt s. xxx, h. xxxxx, d.Ax, c. KJx the immediate raise stands out even more.

Yes, particularly in competitive auctions, it is comforing to know by the opening bid side, whether the responder always has four trumps when the suit is raised, but on balance many 8 card major suit fits, distributed 5-3 are either lost or at best unknown unless and until partner immediately raises, knowing the original responder will not rebid the suit with fewer than 5, unless and of course, immediately supported. No doubt, there are hands (such as today) when having 4 for partner is mandatory to raise which becomes close to critical when competition rages, but methinks those hands, being relatively rare, throw the pendulum in favor of usually raising partner by the opener, unless starting out being 4-3-3-3 with the 4 not partner’s original response suit.

That mini-battle continues to rage between oldies and newbies (and has resulted in the invention of the 3 card raise double named aptly “a support double”, which and although (at least to me) has a deadly meaning to those playing it, with telling their worthy opponents important information in evaluating their hands (during competitive bidding) of whether to compete further or not, above all when one of them has exactly three of that suit and their opponents (after the “support” double) do not continue bidding that suit, it will mean to the other side, beware of duplication and therefore lesser offensive potential both for bidding judgment and sometimes for better “guessed” defense.

Your example obviously struck a nerve with me, causing my above “rant”, but you’ll then have to decide whether that is good news or bad.

Methinks you are getting “on the table” which you so often do, allowing lesser experienced players the opportunity to glean basic, but often “critical” insight into judging whether to play relatively modern treatments which have their plus side emphasized, but the down side basically ignored.

To that, all I can say is “THANK YOU” for your palpably selfless attitude to always benefit our great game, unless and until the one joining in, doesn’t know what he is talking about.

Please, for my “feelings” not to be damaged, do not comment your opinion, a smiley will do!

jim2September 13th, 2019 at 6:29 pm

I, too, would bid 2H.

Now, what will we do when South puts the 4C bid on the table?

Won’t we expect him to have five good hearts for that?

Bob LiptonSeptember 13th, 2019 at 8:25 pm

Not mention other issues. What call can opener make over the splinter? Wouldn’t 4 diamonds tend to promise the diamond Ace (I know there are people who play it’s a “last train” call, but let’s admit that this is a good hand for that and talk about us folks with different understandings)? Is it safe to bid 4 Spades? Is it reasonable, given that partner’s call suggests he’s interested in hearing about diamonds? To add to jim2’s speculation, let’s make North’s hand xx AKxx Qxxxx Ax. Now no one will dispute the bidding, and yet what is he supposed to do over south’s rebid of 4C?


jim2September 13th, 2019 at 11:35 pm

The reason I asked my Qs, was that I think South should find some other bid than 4C. I fear it is too committal and too prone to misinterpretation (if not now, in a subsequent round as one should probably not splinter with the long trump hand and we may still be 4-3).

If I were South, I think I might try a “delicate” and space-saving 2S. My thought would be to give pard a chance to say 2N, showing club values. That would put me off slamming and let me bid something like 3N or 3D or even 4D. If partner perks up with, say, 3C over 2S, then I can raise or jump raise in diamonds to show a pattern like this.

Alternately, instead of 2S, I might bid 4D, deciding our hands were too Red to risk 3N. That would let partner bid 4H if holding four of them, or 5D if holding only three.

bobbywolffSeptember 14th, 2019 at 12:45 am

Hi Jim2 & Bob,

No doubt, I would expect 5 or more hearts for anyone using a slam try convention as long as the partnership has agreed that a raise of responder’s first suit bid, always showed at least 4 trumps which more or less solidified an eventual heart contract at whatever level we stop bidding. The only exception might be a final decision to play NT instead, usually while playing matchpoints, but sometimes when the final bidder is more or less convinced that 6 or even 7NT is safer, in case of a bad heart break.

No ifs, ands or buts to those partnerships which have that understanding (of 4 or more trumps with a simple raise), but I can assuredly say that I am not one of those embracing that original idea of guaranteeing at least 4 trumps for a simple raise.

Sure, at times that understanding saves wear and tear, not to mention a level of bidding to make sure that partnership has at least 8 trumps between them, no doubt an advantage, but I do not think we need to get into the significant disadvantages of that guarantee on many hands, especially when it becomes a part score battle with game still in the offing.

I tend to mostly agree with both of you. Yes, after the final suit is more or less guaranteed then simple bids become either game tries or cue bids, but then we have already determined our trump suit and are now only debating about the final level.

However, assuming we have agreed on our trump suit, then a jump in partners suit should not show shortness (although sometimes it would work better) but instead show a mammoth fit and an interest in slam if the controls are also present as well as the trump suit appearing adequately strong enough, in addition to being at least eight strong.