Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, October 4th, 2019

Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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



After North’s no-trump rebid to show 12-14 high-card points, South forced to game with an artificial inquiry of two diamonds. When North admitted to three-card support for spades at his next turn, South jumped to four clubs to show shortness in that suit. After a cue-bid and Roman Key-card Blackwood, a small dose of optimism prompted South to jump to the slam in spades.

West led the diamond queen, and declarer wisely paused to form a plan. He saw that trumps would have to be 3-2 if he were to have any chance. He could generate a diamond ruff in dummy, but that would still leave him a trick short of his contract.

It was far from obvious, but the best hope for a 12th trick was to establish a trick in clubs. So, after winning the diamond king, declarer led the club queen. When this was covered with the king, declarer’s first instinct was to play the ace. But since he did not have the entries to ruff three clubs, he let the king hold.

When West exited with the diamond jack, declarer won his ace, then cashed the trump king and ace. After ruffing a low club in hand, declarer trumped his diamond loser in dummy. He then ruffed a second club in hand and got the good news of the 4-3 break. He drew West’s remaining trump, discarding a low heart from dummy, at which point he had eight tricks. The heart aceking brought the total to 10, with the club ace and the established club eight taking the last two tricks.

Even with four-card support and 10 points, with its lack of aces and flat shape, this hand is worth only a simple raise. We certainly would not like partner to bid game with a maximum weak no-trump. One of the easiest ways in a strong no-trump base to turn a plus into a minus is to invite game facing an opener with an unremarkable 10-point hand.


♠ J 5 4
 Q 9 8 2
 Q J 10
♣ K J 9
South West North East
    1 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


Joe1October 18th, 2019 at 9:25 pm

BWTA may need more explanation. If N has solid opening 1 H, i.e. 5 H and 13+ points, game is likely, don’t you think? S spots are good, though lack of shape hurts. I am missing the NT angle.

bobbywolffOctober 19th, 2019 at 1:57 am

Hi Joe1,

The last sentence about the weak NT was only to imply the strength of a minimum hand with balanced distribution, but also 5 hearts.

No, I do not think that game is likely, if partner has such a hand, therefore I do not want to make a limit raise or use the popular Drury convention (2 artificial clubs on a passed hand showing a trump fit) which is often a hand somewhat in between a limit raise to the three level and a simple raise to only two.

My experience tells me, if partner has a balanced hand and 13 or 14 hcps, we figure to take only 9 tricks and closer to 8 than 10.

IOW, a 4-3-3-3 hand, even when the four is going to be trump is simply not worth the risk of going to the three level and going set one.

Although it is not the case here, the above opinion is even more so, if partner is opening in the 3rd position, where opening bids often are weaker than normal.

bobbywolffOctober 19th, 2019 at 3:52 pm

Hi Joe1,

Taking back my original comment on not using the Drury convention, if I, of course, played it and held that hand.

Yes, I would choose to bid 2 clubs, “Drury” and let partner know I, in fact, had a very sound raise to (in this case) 2 hearts. Furthermore if I played “2 way Drury” 2 clubs holds three trump, but 2 diamonds holds four, I would then bid 2 diamonds.

By my tone, I do like to play “Drury” named after the late and great Canadian player, Doug Drury, many years ago.

Apologies are in order to you for first judging and then saying what I did and have no excuse for it, except just speaking off the top of my head, rather than thinking properly, before mouthing off.