Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

They went and told the sexton And the sexton toll’d the bell.

Thomas Hood

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


When presented with a problem hand, you tend to look for an artificial solution. In real life, no one rings a bell to persuade you to concentrate. Consider this deal from a recent tournament.

North had already done well by not driving to game. West led the heart nine to the king, and East cashed the heart queen, then the ace, suggesting mild suit preference for clubs. West pitched an encouraging diamond, so East shifted to a diamond to the ace. West returned a club, and declarer claimed. Who goofed?

West “knew” declarer had five spades, two club winners and two diamonds. How could he keep declarer from scoring the diamonds? West must win the first diamond and return the suit. Now declarer has no entries to diamonds outside the trump suit. When spades turn out to be 4-1, South’s only chance is a double finesse in clubs, which does not work today.

Note: West must throw a diamond to prevent declarer from being able to cash two tricks in the suit; and at trick four, East must shift to a diamond for West to return the suit. A club shift would immediately be fatal to the defense, but if East plays a trump instead, declarer should still succeed.

South plays three rounds of trumps, ending in dummy, then advances the club jack, covered by the queen and ace. After drawing West’s last trump, South leads a diamond. West can duck once, but he is endplayed on the second round of diamonds. Then whichever minor he plays will be fatal.

Overcall two hearts. The hand is offensive in nature with a singleton in the opponent’s suit, so we should get our relatively solid hearts into the game as quickly as possible. Even if partner cannot compete, we will have solved any opening-lead problems he might encounter. Yes, you might get caught from time to time, but the positive outcomes of the overcall will be the worth that investment.


♠ 3
 A K Q 7 6
 9 8 7 6
♣ Q 7 6
South West North East
      1 ♠

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


A V Ramana RaoDecember 17th, 2019 at 4:58 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
If Victor Mollo were to narrate this hand:
It was Rueful Rabbit who held West hand and in the excitement of leading partners suit , somehow he put diamond deuce on the table as lead card. When he realized what happened, it was too late. Declarer won in hand and tried another diamond but West hopped up with A and returned heart when declarer meekly went down

ClarksburgDecember 17th, 2019 at 6:26 pm

Hello Bobby
In today’s BWTA, although you come down in favour of the two-level overcall you at least imply it falls somewhat short on normally-required strength.
Although I would always overcall with that hand, I am just curious : what more would it need to be considered not “light”?

Bobby WolffDecember 17th, 2019 at 8:27 pm


Yes, except with a different ending which would become, when RR’s partner cashed his third heart trick, RR discarded the 8 of clubs to both signal his partner he started with an even number of clubs, but instead the main reason, he preferred to artfully keep matching 3’s in the minors.

After all, RR had not kept his end of the bargain
with holding his fair share of cards, ruefully apologizing for his inadequacy.

Bobby WolffDecember 17th, 2019 at 8:40 pm

Hi Clarksburg,

With conservative players, a protected king in one of the pointed suits. And to Roth Stone (RS) players who came along about 70 years ago, make that protection requirement also including a marriage for that extra king. RS began to vanish around 1975, but still some really great players lived in awe of it, until too many of them began to fall on their own sword.

Bobby WolffDecember 17th, 2019 at 8:46 pm

Hi again Clarksburg,

Of course a 6th heart could take the place of other royalty and certainly be included as not “light”.