Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, September 27th, 2019

Like Dead Sea fruits, that tempt the eye, But turn to ashes on the lips.

Thomas Moore

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

*Checkback, forcing two dia


The final of the McConnell Cup was contested by the Baker and Smith teams, Baker eventually proving victorious by the comfortable margin of 66 IMPs. Lynn Baker, Karen McCallum and Sally Brock were defending the trophy from two years before — an impressive achievement.

This deal contributed to their triumph. Both tables reached four hearts, in each case after North had opened one club. After a diamond lead, Yvonne Wiseman, East, played three rounds of the suit, forcing dummy to ruff. Fiona Brown, the declarer, led a club from dummy, and Wiseman won her ace to exit in clubs. All now depended on how declarer would view the trumps. Brown deemed it unlikely that East, who had turned up with 11 points in the minor suits and had not taken a bid, would also have the heart queen. So she ruffed the club, led a trump to the 10 and was home with 10 tricks.

In the other room, Irina Levitina led the club nine. Kerri Sanborn won this and cashed the diamond king, Levitina encouraging to indicate she could not ruff a club. Sanborn then took a second top diamond and shifted to spades rather than tapping the dummy. Was Jessica Larsson naive to cash the heart ace and finesse against East?

If declarer had taken a second top spade and seen the fall of the spade queen, she would have been able to place the heart queen with West because East had not overcalled one no-trump. But Baker would pocket her 12 IMPs and move on without complaint.

When partner doubles for take-out, the emphasis is usually on finding a fit in a major suit. Therefore, I would eschew our good-looking diamonds in favor of two spades. The other upside to making the cheapest call is that if partner wants to act, we haven’t gotten in the way.


♠ 9 8 6 5
 Q 7
 Q 10 9 8 3
♣ 9 4
South West North East
Pass 2 Dbl. 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 ClimieOctober 11th, 2019 at 12:34 pm

Hi Bobby,

How much stronger would you want to be before bidding 3D then 3S over 3H or even competitive doubling and shifting 3C to 3D?



bobbywolffOctober 11th, 2019 at 3:22 pm

Hi Iain,

Good question, which figures to leave my answer somewhat shaky, but nevertheless available.

Since it is not stated whether we are playing IMPs or matchpoints, the greed in me is to prefer (ever so slightly), since the immediate double by partner (not balancing) to normally include 4 card other major support, allowing my judgment to go for the throat and try for a maximum plus score (the 30 per trick, rather than the 20).

Also, if partner would be on lead vs. 3 hearts by the opponents (likely final contract) I would have initially preferred diamonds, but it will instead be me, thus likely not to worry, since, if choosing the nine of spades, figures to be safer.

No doubt little things mean a lot, particularly at matchpoints, making defending against a part score sometimes as important (matchpoint wise) as bidding or not a close slam.

Regarding your specific question about the fluidity of bidding diamonds first and then spades (if given a chance) I, on the surface, agree with that strategy, but my hand, in this case being weak, at least suggests that unless partner is very strong (possible) I will not be in that favored position next time around.

However, if I am, I heartily agree with you that
I would then feel safer about reaching the right strain by bidding diamonds first.

Yes, making me somewhat of a coward by the pessimism I express, but nevertheless, especially if bidding diamonds first works, I will not be as subject to criticism at the post-mortem (definitely kidding).

The message, concerning this bidding hand, might be theoretical since I will be on lead if the opponents buy the hand, but, on others, when partner will be, that should also command respect as to one’s choice.