Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, November 7th, 2019

The art of being able to make a good use of moderate abilities wins esteem and often confers more reputation than real merit.

Francois de la Rochefoucauld

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


North-South did not reach the best spot here, but careful play saw them home. Some Souths (including me) would raise one spade to two, but the featured declarer preferred to rebid his good six-bagger. North could have marked time with a three-club advance, but he judged the singleton queen to be ample support and raised straight to game.

When West found the best lead of a diamond, declarer won dummy’s ace and ran the heart queen. He then had to decide how to return to his hand. A diamond ruff might cede trump control, while a club might put the defenders a step ahead in the race to establish the setting trick from that suit.

South decided that even if the defense could take a spade ruff, it would probably be from trump length not shortness, leaving declarer with just one subsequent trump loser. So South called for a low spade from dummy. When his queen held, he cashed the heart ace and reverted back to spades, to try to establish his pitch for the club loser.

East took the spade ace and switched to a club, but declarer rose with the ace, keeping a late entry to dummy for the spades. East trumped the third round of spades and tried to cash the diamond king. Declarer ruffed, gave up a heart trick, and claimed the rest.

Had South played a club to the ace at trick three, the defense would have been a tempo ahead. East would win the second spade to set up a club trick, then ruff the third spade to cash the club.

You cannot pass here. You could raise to two spades, overstating your spade support and understating your high-card points; bid one no-trump, for which your hand is ideal, minus a club stopper; or cue-bid two clubs, for which you really need a third spade. All choices are flawed, but the one-no-trump advance feels the least deficient. If West has long clubs, he may bid again and let you off the hook.


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


jim2November 21st, 2019 at 2:25 pm

On BWTA, South should make a negative double!

Absent a rules change, however, that is not legal.

Since North may need to be the declarer at 3N, I would bid 2D, deeming it the least evil and secure in the knowledge I can raise spades if partner raises diamonds.

bobbywolffNovember 21st, 2019 at 3:52 pm

Hi Jim2,

Although, while suggesting the likely most descriptive bid, a negative double, you mentioned correctly that it was not legal to double your partner.

However, the bid you mention, 2 diamonds, since most experienced players do not play a change of suit over partner’s overcall is, although constructive, not forcing.

If true, and I agree with that interpretation (but not choice of bid) as best on both frequency and practicality, we need, at least I do, to refer back to the column’s advice, unless we wind up playing 2 diamonds when partner holds: s. KJ942 h. Q96
d. A, c. 10984.

However, please do not ask for the complete play records, since I conveniently misplaced them.

But now the good news. Since TOCM has robbed you of any and all rewards for results of competition, you, perhaps, should be regarded as the best theoretical bidder the bridge world has ever known, due to your bridge smarts, technical knowledge, and above all, nature’s way of rewarding handicapped people for their affliction. IOW, the poster boy for technique!
However you would probably find a way to take 2 spade tricks, 2 heart tricks (guessing where the jack of hearts is while getting a 3-3 break and all 4 of your diamond tricks, 2 by ruffs.

Who needs length in trumps? And as frosting on the cake, doing so, while finding the nirvana
of trump suits, a 4-4 fit, only this one is held by the opponents.

A V Ramana RaoNovember 21st, 2019 at 5:47 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
South played well managing trumps effectively. Perhaps NS would be better playing four spades . But how to reach it after South bids two hearts. Can North venture two spades now or resign himself to play six one fit ?

A V Ramana RaoNovember 21st, 2019 at 5:51 pm

And how should North bid if he had six carded spade suit ( with the same point count of course )

bobbywolffNovember 21st, 2019 at 8:23 pm


No, a rebid of that mediocre 5 card spade suit should never be in the cards.

However 3 clubs is perhaps the bid which will enable that partnership to find their best game contract instead of just ending it with 4 hearts.

The above leads me to what I sincerely believe and have preached it for so many years, which is raising partner’s original major suit response with only three decent trumps (certainly including QJx wherein the jack almost always, becomes worth much more than one measly point). While holding 6 reasonably good hearts, I am not blaming South for choosing 2 hearts instead of a spade raise, but what I am suggesting is that North should not now jump to what he thinks may be right since both spades and NT (with even clubs possible) still in the final contract mix.

Since 2NT is NF and instead 3NT is too final, neither of those choices appeal to me. However 3 clubs (although a club raise would get me to now prefer hearts with only a lonely lady).

If North had an extra spade he might jump to 3 spades (if that extra spade was the ace or queen) but since 3 spades is NF he would then have to have the equivalent of that extra spade reduced from another high card from that hand in order to justify not forcing to game.

IOW, if one can find a temporizing bid instead of a total committal, look for that choice if, for no other reason to allow partner to make the next and often final mistake.

Thanks for the chance to discuss what every wannabe partnership should do.