Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, May 16th, 2016

I created you while I was happy, while I was sad, with so many incidents, so many details.


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


Good technique, coupled with taking the long-term view, stood declarer in good stead today. The trump suit offered him the chance for two careful moves, and he took both his opportunities.

Against four spades, reached after a slightly cautious rebid by South, West cashed the club king and ace, and continued with a safe club jack, although a heart might worked better today. Declarer was on the ball; he ruffed with the nine of trump, appreciating that he might need a late re-entry to dummy to set up the heart suit for a second diamond discard, if hearts didn’t break 3-3.

South continued by cashing the spade ace, just in case the queen was singleton. Then he entered dummy in hearts, to lead a second round of trump. When the 10 appeared from East, declarer put in the jack. Once it held, he drew the last trump, and was home safely.

And if the spade jack had lost to the doubleton queen? The contract would still have made so long as hearts were 3-3 or 4-2. If 4-2, the fourth round is ruffed with the trump eight. Then the carefully preserved spade four, overtaken with the six, is the entry to the long heart for the second diamond discard.

This particular maneuver, of manipulating your smaller trump to allow maximum flexibility of entries, is one that it is easy to overlook. But once you get in the habit of it, you may be surprised how frequently it will pay dividends.

I would lead a club here rather than gamble on the heart ace. My mild preference is for a low club, since dummy is quite likely to be short in that suit. If West has a singleton or doubleton honor, I might well find that I would regret having squandered an important spot card at trick one.


♠ 3
 A Q 7
 J 5 4 3
♣ J 10 5 4 2
South West North East
  1 Pass 1 ♠
Pass 3 ♠ Pass 4 ♠
All 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


A.V.Ramana RaoMay 30th, 2016 at 3:39 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
I think a slight improvement would be– after ruffing the third club, declarer should lead a heart to dumm’y’s Ace and lead a trump to A in hand and lead a second heart . If west ruffs, that would be end of the defense. For suppose west ruffs and returns a trump ( albeit remote chance) dummy can be entered with a trump. If west returns a diamond, you play him for diamond K and club return provides for a ruff and a sluff . & If west follows suit in hearts, win in dummy and simply finesse in trumps which ensures the contract. This line provides for hearts 5-1 too apart from 4-2 / 3-3 ( with of course west holding diamond K )
Hope I am not missing something

bobby wolffMay 30th, 2016 at 4:23 pm


Yes, you do add a dimension, not mentioned in the write-up.

However you only overlooked the possibility that West follows with a heart (being 2-4 West to East) wins the queen of spades when finessed and then switches to a diamond with East having the king.

No doubt, making up for a previous gaffe of not switching to diamonds earlier while not holding the king, but perhaps he neglected to do so, fearing for a different layout of the red suits (such as South having the A10 in diamonds and only a singleton heart).

However the above does not, in any way, take away from your suggestion to perhaps a superior technique, taking into consideration that West, by his playing the third top club at trick three, definitely confirmed his holding of the king of diamonds.

As we all know, sometimes illusions override reality, but when it happens is anyone’s guess and all we can do is attempt to decide which is more likely. However, in trying to analyze the reasons for random players making certain plays sometimes, all too often, results in frustration.

Thanks for the technically improved play you suggested, based on real evidence of a dog who barked when he didn’t switch to a diamond, marking him with the king.