Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

To find a young fellow that is neither a wit in his own eye, nor a fool in the eye of the world, is a very hard thing.

William Congreve

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

*Four-card raise


Even playing a sound style, many would open today’s North hand. But after North’s disciplined pass, South made a simple overcall of one spade. West stretched to two diamonds, and North bid two no-trump, conventionally showing a constructive four-card spade raise. South then took a shot at game; a threeheart bid might have helped his partner (but also the opponents) to judge the hand.

Declarer won the club lead and ruffed a club with a middle trump, crossed to dummy with a heart to ruff the last club, then cashed the spade ace-king. He next got off lead with a heart, taken by West’s king, who was now forced to open up the diamonds.

Declarer still had a guess as to which diamond honor West held, but decided that it was unlikely that East would have rebid three clubs with just a 10-count. He played small from dummy and landed the game.

Well played by South, but West had a slim chance to defeat him. Had he imagined the position, West could have freed himself of the heart king on the first round of the suit. Then East could win the second heart, cash the heart queen and exit with a fourth round. South’s heart nine would be set up, but for no useful discard, and declarer would have been left to open up the diamonds for himself.

While that would have been the winning defense today, it would have looked silly if declarer had two small diamonds and the heart jack, so we can hardly blame West for his actions.

Respond one no-trump. This is not worth a two-level response, with soft values in the black suits and an average long suit, even if you don’t play the sequence as game forcing. Bidding one no-trump, followed by two diamonds over partner’s two-club rebid, is fine. If partner does not act over two diamonds, you will not miss anything.


♠ Q 6
 K 10
 Q 10 9 6 3 2
♣ J 4 2
South West North East
    1 Pass

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Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


MirceaNovember 26th, 2019 at 7:04 pm

Hi Bobby,

Long time no see. What is your take on opening (or not) with North’s hand. Is it more or less a matter of style?

Bobby WolffNovember 26th, 2019 at 7:27 pm

Hi Mircea,

And a sincere welcome back. Hope you are well.

Personally I am against ever hedging a balanced hand with fewer than 12 hcps. Not so much because of the exact point count (which has a multitude of flaws with overrating isolated honors and underrating together ones), but rather than, unless tied to a different but possibly effective response system, at least to me, it will just be a matter of time that the partnerships who too quickly switch to opening those hands, will soon realize frustration, especially against above average competition.

Of course, better players have built in advantages on almost every hand they play, but if so, I cannot imagine opening the hand you mention will have anything to do with their success.

Since we all miss you, I, for one (and I am sure all others) will welcome hearing much more from your always good questions and answers.

AviNovember 27th, 2019 at 1:30 pm

Hi Bobby

BWTA. what’s wrong with a false preference to 2H?

aviNovember 27th, 2019 at 1:31 pm

after bidding 1nt first round ofcourse

Bobby WolffNovember 27th, 2019 at 3:28 pm

Hi Avi,

Nothing is wrong with a rebid of 2 hearts, after, of course, of initially responding 1NT.

However 2 diamonds, assuming partner will have 2 of them, appears a safer part score and can make use of all those diamond spots as trump.

However, at that bastardized bridge game which is known as matchpoints, 2 hearts may well score up making two (+110) instead of 2 diamonds scoring the same at making 3, but what about +130.

However I would bid 2 hearts at matchpoints and 2 diamonds at IMPs or rubber bridge.

However, by asking that question, you are right to think that way and make the bid most likely to be made by experienced players.

don wirthNovember 27th, 2019 at 7:10 pm

Hello Bobby, what is the name of the two no-trump bid convention used here in the “William Congreve” hand write-up.