Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree.

Ezra Pound

N North
Neither ♠ K 10 9
 10 9 8 3
 K 10 2
♣ A 7 5
West East
♠ Q J 6 3 2
 6 5
 A 7 5
♣ J 4 3
♠ A 8
 K 7 2
 Q 9 6 4
♣ 10 9 8 2
♠ 7 5 4
 A Q J 4
 J 8 3
♣ K Q 6
South West North East
    Pass Pass
1 ♣ 1 ♠ Dbl. Pass
2 Pass Pass 2 ♠
Pass Pass Dbl. Pass
3 All Pass    


In the round robin match between Denmark and Italy at the 1999 World Junior Teams in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a textbook hand in suit-preference signaling came along. Unusually, it was the hand on lead making the suit-preference signal rather than the hand following suit.

Morten Madsen of Denmark as East thought long and hard before pushing his opponents with his call of two spades — and rightly so. The defense had seven tricks against that contract, but when North doubled a second time just to show cards, South decided against trying to take the penalty. You could certainly argue that, with a balanced hand and reasonable defense, it was more sensible to pass here, but at teams, players are often reluctant to sit for the double of a part-score into game.

The opening lead of the spade queen held the trick. Now Kaspar Konow (West) deliberately set up dummy’s spade 10 by leading a suit-preference jack at the second trick, since he knew that his partner’s delayed support was likely to be based on exactly a doubleton spade. Hence, he had to prepare the way for a spade ruff.

Madsen won his ace perforce and duly led a diamond (the higher of the minor suits) in order to ensure the ruff. There was still the diamond queen coming to the defense for the setting trick.

Notice that if East plays a club after winning his spade ace, declarer gets in to draw trumps at once, and the defenders lose their ruff.

Bid two spades. To raise to game with a balanced hand and a defensive trick would be far too aggressive, as would a limit raise on a nine-loser hand, despite the ace and fifth trump. Give me 5-4-2-2 shape or ace-jack-third in a minor, and you might tempt me to bid three spades. There is also no need to pre-empt when you have the boss suit. You can compete again, if necessary, to show extra shape.


♠ Q J 6 3 2
 6 5
 A 7 5
♣ J 4 3
South West North East
  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


A V Ramana RaoDecember 24th, 2019 at 1:24 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Wishing you “A Merry Christmas”
And , It may not be possible to reach but if somehow South becomes declarer in 3 NT assuming West leads a natural spade and continues the contract becomes unbeatable. However, if West leads an initial diamond or shifts to a diamond after his Q of spade lead holds the contract cannot be made. Also if North becomes declarer in 3 NT. ( Perhaps all hypothetical ) Our beautiful game is full of paradoxes which makes it more and more fascinating

Bobby WolffDecember 24th, 2019 at 2:15 pm


The titillating holiday season, when added to “our beautiful game” indeed represents the gorgeous luster of what the WBF has rightly labeled “Bridge for Peace”.

We need never to forget the way bridge can bring people of all nationalities together in worthwhile mind competition, with accurate and heartfelt analysis. Thus, in turn, tends to make us all realize our commonality instead of our differences, suggesting friendships and love, rather than confrontation.

The ripe “paradoxes” you mention will only increase our good feelings toward each other, especially when we solve them, allowing respect rather than disdain to rule.

Our oh so complicated and varied world, needs to add to the ultra physical World Olympics, to an equally competitive mental World Olympics which, in its own way, is, at least as challenging, and more so, is not as restrictive age wise, since mind power unquestionably lasts much longer than does body ability.

Judy and I wish you and yours a happy and prosperous holiday season, certainly including all of 2020.

BTW, much thanks to you for all you contribute, on our site, including your consistent accurate analysis and always good cheer.

A V Ramana RaoDecember 24th, 2019 at 2:49 pm

Sorry , I missed Judy, so making amends, I wish You and Judy a very Merry Christmas
Best regards