Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: N/S

10 9 8
A 10 8
K 10 9 6
10 4 2
West East
K 7 5 4 Q J 3
6 5 3 2
8 4 3 2 A Q 7 5
K Q J 9 7 8 5
A 6 2
K Q J 9 7 4
A 6 3


South West North East
1 Pass 1 NT Pass
3 Pass 4 All Pass

Opening Lead:K

“Thought is the labor of the intellect; reverie is its pleasure.”

— Victor Hugo

Today’s deal features a ruffing finesse, but one with a couple of wrinkles. Playing a forcing no-trump, North took the low road initially, but after South had made an aggressive three-heart rebid, North had more than enough to raise to game.


West led the club king, which declarer ducked. He won the club continuation, then led the diamond jack to East’s queen. On the switch to the spade queen, declarer won with the ace, crossed to dummy’s heart 10, and played the diamond king, ruffing away East’s ace. Now a trump to dummy allowed declarer to discard two losing spades on dummy’s established 10 and nine of diamonds. Declarer could then ruff a spade back to hand to draw the last trumps.


The deal has two subtleties. The first is declarer’s need to duck the initial club lead. Suppose declarer wins the club ace at trick one. When East wins the diamond queen, he can play another club and West can cash two clubs as East discards a diamond. Now declarer wins the spade switch, crosses to dummy, and plays the diamond king, ruffing out East’s ace. Declarer crosses to a trump and cashes the diamond 10, but when she plays the diamond nine, East ruffs and declarer must lose a spade trick at the end.


The second is that if East had won the first diamond with the ace instead of the queen, declarer might well have mishandled the diamonds.

ANSWER: If you feel like bidding (and I’d hate to sell out here), double looks right. This lets partner defend if he unexpectedly has diamond length, or bid his own suit if he has extreme length in a black suit. Bidding three hearts would be telling the same story once too often.


South Holds:

A 6 2
K Q J 9 7 4
A 6 3


South West North East
1 2 Pass Pass
2 Pass Pass 3


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 2009. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact