Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 31st, 2019

Do not commence your exercises in philosophy in those regions where an error can deliver you over to the executioner.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

N North
None ♠ K 5
 A Q 8 7 5
 A 6 5
♣ 8 6 5
West East
♠ J 10 9 8 4
 10 9 4 2
♣ J 9 2
♠ Q 7 2
 K J
 K 10 9 2
♣ Q 10 7 3
♠ A 6 3
 6 3
 Q J 7 4 3
♣ A K 4
South West North East
    1 Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
2 NT Pass 3 Pass
3 NT All pass    


In olden days, South would bid a forcing two-no-trump call in response to one heart. These days, this call tends to be reserved for forcing heart raises; South should instead introduce his diamonds.

North then has a rebid problem. I wouldn’t want to bid two no-trump with three small clubs, and I prefer to raise diamonds only with four trumps or some extras, though a three-card raise in an unbalanced hand is possible. Here, repeating the hearts looks best.

Against three no-trump, West leads the spade jack, and declarer sees he has just six top winners. His extra tricks will be from a red suit, and diamonds seem like the most promising direction. While the hand is likely to present no special problem, South must still keep his eye on the ball.

South wins the first spade in his hand, but he must not advance the diamond queen. Instead, at trick two, South leads a low diamond toward dummy’s ace, then plays a diamond to his queen. If the suit breaks 3-2, his problems are over. When West shows out, declarer must go back to dummy to make another diamond play. He cannot afford to take the heart finesse; if it lost, a spade back might doom him.

Instead, he leads a low heart from his hand to dummy’s ace and plays a third diamond. East returns the spade queen to dummy’s king, and declarer will cash out his nine tricks. Note that the 4-1 diamond break means declarer will go down if he leads the diamond queen at trick two.

This auction should be played as forcing. If your partner had a limit raise in diamonds, he would invite at his first turn or pass your non-forcing three-club call. If you believe you are being forced to act, bid three spades, showing values and implicitly denying even half a heart stop, in which case you would have bid three hearts.


♠ A 6 3
 6 3
 Q J 7 4 3
♣ A K 4
South West North East
1 1 2 ♣ Pass
3 ♣ Pass 3 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


GinnySeptember 15th, 2019 at 1:47 am

Late to reading the column today, but I have a number of questions:
1. If bidding SAYC, what does the 2NT bid require of partner? Is this inviting or forcing?
2. Should South take the first trick?
3. Should the first spade trick be taken in dummy?
4. Should the first diamond trick be a low diamond toward declarer rather than the ace?
5. Do the plays change with the scoring?

Can’t say enough about how wonderful this column, columnist and friends are for this bridge player’s game

David WarheitSeptember 15th, 2019 at 6:07 am

Ginny: To answer one of your questions, S should cash the DA first, just in case W has the DK singleton. S makes his contract if D are 3-2 or if E has any 4 D. He also makes if E has all 5 D if W has the HK.

David WarheitSeptember 15th, 2019 at 6:15 am

Also, after cashing the DA, if W has all 5 D, duck a H and hope that W has K third of H.

bobbywolffSeptember 15th, 2019 at 10:27 pm

Hi Ginny,

First much thanks for your heartfelt compliment, especially since it gives me unlimited fun and appreciation just to be part of it.

When the opening bidder, after opening 1 of a suit and having partner bid 2 of another lower ranking suit, rebids 2NT he might have a little extra than a bare opening bid, but definitely should have a balanced distribution (no singleton and likely either 5-3-3-2, 4-4-3-2, or 4-3-3-3 with basically random high cards, but with the unbid suits both stopped, trying to protect against the opponents being able to take the 1st 5 tricks (if partner also has no stopper). Almost all partnerships would play 2NT as forcing, although some so-called old fashioned players may play 2NT can be passed.
Sure, if holding Qxx in an unbid suit, it is OK (IMO) to chance a 2NT rebid, since otherwise the strictures against bidding that telltale bid,
would require too much discipline.

However, I do think it should be a one round force, subject to being passed when and if partner rebids his own suit at the 3 level as long as that partnership is not playing it, a GF.

Of course, when playing 2 over 1 (in a different suit is GF) then the bidding must continue until game is reached.

Not too complicated but should be rigidly adhered to, for fear of losing partnership harmony, it it isn’t.

As far as the play is concerned, listen to David, who tells you true what the play will demand for a best effort.

bobbywolffSeptember 15th, 2019 at 10:30 pm

Hi David,

As always, thanks for your intervention, without which Ginny may have had an annoying wait since I was having other fish to fry.