Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

For men improve with the years;
And yet, and yet,
Is this my dream, or the truth?

W.B. Yeats

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

*Michaels, promising hearts and a minor.


Against five spades West leads the club ace followed by the king, which you ruff. How do you plan to make 11 tricks when it is West who has the outstanding trump?

Can you do better than taking the diamond finesse?

A solution that wins whenever West has the heart ace is to crossruff hearts and clubs, coming back to hand with trumps as required. At trick nine, lead the heart king to West’s ace, discarding a diamond from table. West has to concede an extra trick no matter what he plays. If he plays a diamond, then you have two diamond tricks, and if he plays a club or a heart, you will throw a diamond from the table and ruff in hand with your last trump. After cashing the diamond ace, dummy’s two remaining trumps will be high.

However, as you expect West to have 10 cards in hearts and clubs, and thus at most two diamonds, the play that wins against any distribution is to ruff a heart, draw the trump in hand, ruff a heart, ruff dummy’s last club, ruff a third heart, cash the diamond ace, and ruff the fourth heart.

Next comes a diamond, and you put up the queen when East follows low. Here, West takes your queen with his king but has no safe exit card. Whether he exits with a club or a heart, you ruff in hand and discard dummy’s last diamond.

It is reasonable to double to get both majors into play, but my choice would be to overcall one spade, planning to double or bid hearts at my next turn — if there is one — to get both my suits in, in the correct order. The problem with doubling is that if the opponents raise clubs, we might have to overbid considerably at our next turn to compete efficiently.


♠ K Q 10 6 3
 K 9 7 4
 A Q 5
♣ 2
South West North East

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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieJune 24th, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Hi Bobby,

I like this sort of hand – if the diamond finesse is right, you don’t need to take it! I love bridge’s quirks.


Iain Climie

jim2June 24th, 2013 at 3:22 pm

If West had led a heart, declarer would not have had to take the diamond finesse either.

Bobby WolffJune 24th, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Hi Iain & Jim2,

Iain, just call it an improved way to take a finesse, begetting a quite different and successful result.

Jim2, you are merely referring to an opening lead which allows the declarer a loser on loser play which allows the contract making trick to be assured.

Both of your comments verified Yeats’ wonderful quote, “For men improve with the years and yet, and yet, Is this the dream, or the truth”? The truth, as all high-level players have learned to become.

jim2June 25th, 2013 at 10:51 am

Um, “merely”?! Huh! [imagine some genteel noise]