Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 3rd, 2019

It is better to be able neither to read nor write than to be able to do nothing else.

William Hazlitt

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


West leads the club three against four spades, and South can see that he must expect to lose a club. He can discard one of his hearts on a club and ruff his other losing heart with one of dummy’s small trumps. He should then be in good shape to hold his spade losers to two at most.

When East wins the ace, South drops the king from hand to create an entry to dummy. That will allow him to win the next club in dummy rather than in his own hand.

East returns a low spade, and South can afford to put in the jack, since he needs only one trump in dummy to ruff with. When West wins trick two with the spade queen and returns a diamond, South wins dummy’s king rather than risking the finesse. South also cannot afford to take another trump finesse immediately, since West might be able to win and return a third trump to keep South from ruffing his losing heart at all.

To avoid this fate, now is the right moment to take the spade ace, then cash the two club winners in dummy so that South can get rid of one of his losing hearts. Next, declarer cashes the two top hearts and ruffs the fourth heart with dummy’s seven. Though East is out of hearts, he cannot over-ruff, and even if he could, it would be with the master trump.

Only now can South afford to resume the play of trumps. He concedes one trick to the defenders’ master trump but makes his contract.

It seems obvious to lead a heart, playing to force declarer. I would do that, but I can see a good case for a small trump. Dummy probably has a ruffing value, and it could easily be in hearts. I might be able to kill the ruff by repeated trump leads, so a low trump would be my second choice.


♠ K 8 6 4 3
 10 5 2
 A J 3
♣ 7 5
South West North East
    2 2 ♠
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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieJune 17th, 2019 at 1:52 pm

HI Bobby,

Nice point about East leading the S3 here, although TOCM will give West KQ8x 10x Qxx xxxx when giving up two spades and running diamonds works, and declarer wants to kick the cat although only hypothetically – we’ve had numerous cats over the years.

Some might double on LWTA but that might leave declarer holding (say) HAJx or even Axx amongst his / her assets with an escape to 4N, when partner’s KQJxxx / KQ9xxx are neutralised. Skid Simon’s question at the start of Why You Lose At Bridge (So, do you double a freely bid suit slam at rubber bridge when holding 2 Aces and, if so, why?) and the subsequent discussion are still sensible lessons.



bobbywolffJune 17th, 2019 at 3:47 pm

Hi Iain,

Well said, and oh so true!

The column writer has a great advantage by fashioning the outcome directly around his advice given. While at the table, it is often quite different, with the so-called percentage attempt at success not working. And .. who can sometimes prove what some writer (myself or anyone else right when all the vagaries, bid or not, hitch or not, clever defender or not) comes specifically to a conclusion.

Any specific situation, up for grabs, end results over a lifetime, right as rain because of the immutable law of averages, proving that winners deserved their results, unless, of course, he or she was cheating (a condition to which the world wide bridge community is now in a quandary).

A fallback or default complaint among the evil, if only to protect their reputation, when nothing other is available.