Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020


A V Ramana RaoAugust 5th, 2020 at 12:20 pm

Hi Dear Mr Wolff
Regarding North’s two spades bid : normally, it is weaker than raising to two spades without interference from West. And had south inferred this, he should have passed it. He invited trouble by bidding three diamonds. With only three to four points from dummy and aggressive double notwithstanding from West, game ambition certainly looks like a phantom. Request your opinion

bobbywolffAugust 5th, 2020 at 2:13 pm


No doubt, at least IMO, North overbid badly when he didn’t return to 3 spades instead of leaping to game with his balanced 4 hcp count, in spite of his extra trump, which though an asset, was just not enough of one to justify his extreme optimism.

The declarer then proceeded to back his opinion, first in trump, to which he failed, and then in diamonds, where he broke even.

Perhaps, if playing a sane 3 spade contract instead, he would have brought it in. However, if he would have followed your advice, he would have gone plus when making either eight or nine tricks, with making only eight about average, but nine a likely tie for top.

However, to pass partner’s two spade raise with his potentially excellent hand, is a bit of an underbid, but still, as you pointed out, within reason.

Iain ClimieAugust 5th, 2020 at 9:23 pm

HI Bobby,

How much credit should South take on todays’ play hand for HQx? Obviously dummy could have something that fills it in nicely but equally it could be waste paper. I tend to feel that a doubleton in the opponents known (or inferred) suit, especially after a raise, is very often the worst holding compared to (say) xxx(x) or shortage.



bobbywolffAugust 5th, 2020 at 11:20 pm

Hi Iain,

No doubt that the Qx holding in an opponent’s suit is usually an offensive liability, but if happened to be held by Jim 2’s opposite would find AJ doubleton in dummy, behind the strong hand or at least the one who holds the regal one.

While your concern is no doubt true, a larger mistake IMO is once East plays the jack of hearts on the heart switch by partner, it should practically deny the queen, since his partner would be more likely to switch to a heart with jack one than with Qx, a lady who sometimes sneaks into winning a trick simply because the declarer may play her for a singleton if declarer holds AKJ. Somewhat subtle but methinks practical.

jim2August 6th, 2020 at 2:09 am


Iain ClimieAugust 6th, 2020 at 11:37 am

HI Bobby,

I think spades just switched to hearts but I know what you mean. This does raise an interesting question, though. Switching to a singletons trump 9 at T3 could easily cost a trick so what if declarer on a different lie of the cards (with more entries) tried leading S10 from 10xxx towards AK8xx getting J, A, Q. Now there is a losing option if East had Jx but many players would thoughtlessly cover with J9x here. Something about Greek gifts springs to mind!



bobbywolffAugust 6th, 2020 at 2:37 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, but there were Qx opposite Jx in both major suits, so we can verify the sometimes difficulty in bridge discussion where wide ranges of back and forth can lead to unintended answers.

I, no doubt, was referring to spades, the eventual trump suit, but referred to hearts instead. Reminds me of a bridge story, long ago, but told, in confidence to me by a friend.

When playing EW in a club game he (by accident was his story) saw a NS open scorecard, which verified on board 24 that EW made +140 while playing 2 spades, which bridge round, by them, was yet to be played.

Several rounds later NS bid cautiously to 3 diamonds passed around to him, to which while holding Jxxx in spades together with only a smattering of other high cards. Our anti-hero then volunteered 3 spades to which both opponents doubled (or so it seemed) and down three tricks (-500) he went.

Later, since board 24 had cost them 1st place, he located the pair to whom he had glanced at their scorecard, asked to see it and after verifying the -140 in 3 spades, then somewhat agitated, wondered how his opponents could have made it and so inquired.

His friend looked at his scorecard and then replied, “3 spades, no, I must have meant to write 3 hearts, but what’s the difference?”