Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dealer: West

Vul: All

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


South West North East
  1 Pass Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
3 Pass 4 All Pass

Opening Lead:K

“Delay always breeds danger; and to protract a great design is often to ruin it.”

— Miguel de Cervantes

In today’s deal South plays in four hearts after West has opened one club. The club king is led and South should win the club ace — but what next?


The simple player will draw two rounds of trump and find the bad news, then lead a diamond to the king and ace. West will win and press on with clubs at every turn. Eventually declarer will run out of trumps — he has to ruff three clubs — and so East will be able to trump the fourth diamond and set the game.


By contrast, would a more thoughtful approach be to take the ace and king of hearts, then duck two diamonds, hoping the ace was doubleton with West? Probably, but as the cards lie, that would be equally unsuccessful.


So what can declarer do? The answer is simple only if you realize that the danger of a bad trump split can be overcome by not drawing trump, instead using dummy’s trumps to ruff clubs.


Declarer wins the opening lead and ducks a diamond, ruffs the next club, and ducks another diamond. When a third club is played, he ruffs and plays a third diamond. West wins the ace and must return a trump or spade (either of which gives declarer a critical tempo) or cede a ruff and discard. In the latter case declarer ruffs in dummy, plays the remaining high trump, then crosses to his spade ace. He can now draw trump and score his long diamond in peace and quiet.

ANSWER: Jump to two spades to suggest four trumps and a little extra in high cards. This sequence is encouraging but nonforcing. (Since partner could have as little as four spades in a six- or seven-count, there is no need to go overboard.) Wait for your partner to do more if he has extras.


South Holds:

Q 9 5 3
K Q 10 8 4


South West North East
1 1 Dbl. 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 2009. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact

1 Comment

David WarheitOctober 3rd, 2009 at 3:43 am

Actually, he has already enjoyed the long diamond–it was pitched on the ruff and discard.