Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
4 All Pass    

Opening Lead:Q

“And over them triumphant Death his dart

Shook, but delayed to strike, though oft invoked.”

— John Milton

Today’s deal demonstrates how easy it is to fall victim to the idea that trumps be drawn as soon as possible. There are at least two good reasons not to do that. The first is that you will often need to ruff something in one hand or the other. The second is that there may be something more important to be done before playing trumps. That generally boils down to a question of timing and communication.


Let’s look at the likely sequence of plays in today’s deal. West leads the heart queen against four spades. East takes his ace — guarding against this specific distribution in the suit — and drops South’s king. When he continues with a heart, declarer ruffs the trick. A thoughtless declarer might now draw trumps in four rounds and then unblock dummy’s clubs. But he cannot reach his own hand. The best he can do is play a diamond to his king, but when it loses, the defenders have the rest.


A far better approach would be to draw two rounds of trump, then reassess the position. If trumps have split, declarer can draw them all, unblock clubs, and play for the overtrick. If trumps do not split, declarer must take the slight risk of cashing two rounds of clubs. Then he reverts to drawing trumps, but on the fourth round, he can unblock dummy’s remaining club honor. Now declarer has five tricks in each of the black suits, and can happily concede the last two tricks.

ANSWER: The jump to four spades is an unequivocal slam-try suggesting short spades. Your honors will be working overtime. Also you have trump support and a key third-round club control. Jump to six diamonds if you trust your partner’s bidding.


South Holds:

10 9 5 3
Q J 10 6
A 9 3
9 4


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