Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, November 20, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


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

Opening Lead:2

“It’s never too late — in fiction or in life — to revise.”

— Nancy Thayer

It is always difficult to reject a good plan when circumstances render it unlikely to succeed. Today, West found the only lead to give South a problem in his contract of four spades — namely, a trump. On any other attack, declarer wins, plays ace and another diamond and, when on play again, a third diamond. If the diamond suit fails to break 3-3, South’s fourth diamond can be ruffed in dummy.


South appreciated that the plan of playing on diamonds was now unlikely to work, since the defenders would probably be able to play two further rounds of trump, stripping dummy of ruffing values.


The winning line involved a dummy reversal, with declarer taking three ruffs in his own hand. Declarer carefully won the opening trump lead with his king. Then the ace and king of hearts were cashed, a club played to dummy’s ace, and a heart ruffed high. A club was ducked, and on winning, West returned another trump. This was won in dummy and a club was ruffed high. (Notice that care was needed when winning the opening lead and on ruffing a heart, so that dummy’s trump entry was not compromised.)


Now a diamond to dummy’s ace and a further club ruff took the trick tally to nine: two top hearts, the club and diamond aces, two trumps and three ruffs in hand. Although the South hand was now bereft of trumps, the master spade remaining in dummy was the 10th trick.

ANSWER: Your partner’s call of two diamonds shows a good spade raise. You have enough to be interested in game facing extras, but nothing clear to say. Fortunately you have a way to show this hand after East’s double: pass, which shows a better hand than a reversion to two spades. In all similar auctions, returning to the trump suit is the weakest action, while passing suggests extras.


South Holds:

K Q J 9 3
8 6 4 3
9 4


South West North East
    Pass 1
1 2 2 Dbl.


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


Jennifer SammisDecember 4th, 2009 at 11:11 pm

What book did Bobby recommend for a Christmas gift? It was in a column this week and I did not save the name.

David WarheitDecember 5th, 2009 at 7:36 am

Actually, the plan to ruff a diamond in dummy does work. In fact, it is a strong favorite to work, failing pretty much only when one defender has 4 diamonds and spade length. Of course, the dummy reversal is almost 100% and definitely better, but sometimes good play must be its own reward.

Bobby WolffDecember 5th, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Hi Jennifer,

After scouring over very recent columns, I came up with two worth recommending:

1. Krzysztof Martens “University of Defense” on opening leads-Martens could be considered Poland’s grand old man of bridge, an emotional and consistent leader who has kept Poland’s rather large group of very top world bridge players on the straight and narrow, always exercising Active Ethics as well as great bridge technique.

2. Kelsey and Glavert on percentages is a practical guide to what one needs to know, rather than a tome which forces the reader to judge what is important.

Happy Holidays!

Bobby WolffDecember 5th, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Hi David,

Thanks for your comments.

Will the plan to ruff a diamond in dummy still work, if East ducks the second diamond, allowing his partner to lead a second trump and then follows up by ruffing partner’s next defensive diamond trick and leading his 4th trump to complete the defensive coup? Granted that defense overcomes several ifs, but it might be done, especially in columns.

Season’s Greetings to you and yours!