Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

The intellect of man is forced to choose Perfection of the life, or of the work.

W.B. Yeats

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



Terence Reese often asserted that two-suited overcalls on weak hands offer up a fielder’s choice to the opponents, who can either take a penalty when the hand is a misfit, or choose to declare with a blueprint of the distribution. That was certainly the case today when East wandered in over North’s forcing no-trump with less than zero excuse.

South did not exactly hold back when he freely rebid his hearts, and North was delighted to raise. West, not in on the joke, doubled the final contract, completing a revealing sequence.

Declarer took the club queen lead in dummy and assumed he was facing a 4-0 trump split. It was also good odds that the spade ace-queen were offside, so he set his sights on an endplay against West. He had to be careful, though, so as to not damage his chances should the spade queen be to his right.

He began by throwing a spade on the club king and ruffing a club low. He then crossed to the diamond king and returned to the diamond ace, West following all the way. South now led a low heart out of his hand. This had the effect of keeping dummy’s heart 10 as a potential menace for later on.

West went in with the heart jack and did his best when he shifted to a low spade. Declarer took the spade nine with the jack, then threw West back in with three more rounds of hearts. Down to nothing but spades, West had to lead into declarer’s spade tenace for a second time, conceding the doubled game.

Hands with good spade support have several options. Your best call to get your shape and values across is to bid four clubs. You have lots of playing strength in support of spades and what is needed for slam bidding — good trumps and controls. A four-club splinter describes your hand well — short clubs and at least the values for game.


♠ K J 10 8
 A K 8 6 3 2
 A 9
♣ 8
South West North East
1 Pass 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


Iain ClimieDecember 4th, 2019 at 10:27 am

Hi Bobby,

A quick query from last night’s session. You hold x AK10xxx xx Jxxx at favourable vulnerability and RHO opens 2C at pairs. I think 2 (or even 3) hearts is automatic but West at our table passed and the auction went 2D from me (P) 3N (25-26 in principle, although may be less with a long minor) all pass. Are you going to bash down hearts from the top or lead a small one? I think the answer is fairly clear cut although obviously either choice could be right.



Iain ClimieDecember 4th, 2019 at 10:38 am

Sorry, that should be Sxx and Dx, relevant elsewhere not to the lead.

Bobby WolffDecember 4th, 2019 at 10:52 am

Hi Iain,

My choice is clearly one of the two highest honors, especially at matchpoints where every trick, defensive and offensive is critically important.

Also it is likely that the declarer holds the heart queen and it might be doubleton (perhaps the chance is at least 20% that it is).

To do otherwise, would be counting on partner having exactly 2 hearts and an entry, possible but I wouldn’t bet the farm on its likelihood (except perhaps, if I didn’t own one).

Another reason is that dummy figures to be short in hearts, perhaps even a singleton, with a side 5 card or longer minor (no Stayman by him) and thus maintaining the lead at trick one may save a crucial overtrick at pairs.

No doubt if leading small is a winner (partner may even have Qx) there will be stern looks after, but, if so, it won’t be the first time, and, at my age, I hope it won’t be the last.

Iain ClimieDecember 4th, 2019 at 12:40 pm

Hi Bobby,

Thanks for that and of course the top one works – dummy has Jxx Qx xxx K10xxx and declarer AKQ10 J9 AKQxx AQ. I was wrong with the correction – spades were 5-1 but both 4S and 5D romp home while 3N’s fate is to lose the first 6 heart tricks. Maddening but you can’t argue with West’s cunning pass on this occasion. Of course if she overcalls, I probably double to show values and we’ll probably play in 4S. If I pass 2H, then partner either doubles or bids 3D and again we avoid the trap. Difficult to blame partner for bidding 3N rather than 3D at the table even at teams, though, although I do bid 3N over that and the other hand has to find a lead form 9xxxx xxx J10x 9x. John Brown’s comment on leads applies big time here.

Terence Reese would doubtless have approved of the result although I can’t imagine he wouldn’t have bid 2H!