Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 3, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: Both

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


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

Opening Lead: King

“Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides;

Who covers faults, at last shame them derides.”

— William Shakespeare [BFQ 208.27]

Against four hearts West led the club king, which declarer ducked. With this type of holding in a suit contract and no immediate prospect of a discard, it often works well to duck at trick one. It will cost only if the suit breaks 6-1 — relatively unlikely when West did not overcall. When the suit divides 5-2, it may be much harder for the defenders to take their second winner in the suit.


Declarer won the club continuation and ran the spade nine to East’s ace. Developing the side suit before touching trumps is often a good idea if the defenders are not threatening a ruff. East switched to a diamond, won in hand, and now declarer again resisted the urge to touch trumps. Instead he repeated the spade finesse, ruffed a spade low as East pitched a diamond, and only now laid down the heart king. Had trumps split, he would have drawn them all ending in dummy, but when the 5-0 split came to light, he ruffed a diamond to dummy and led dummy’s low spade. If East ruffed in, declarer could overruff and draw trumps. When East discarded again, declarer simply played on a high crossruff and conceded trick 13 to both defenders.


If declarer had not ducked the first club trick, then, when the spade lost to the ace, East would have returned a club and set the game by force. And if South had started to draw trumps prematurely, that too would have been fatal.

ANSWER: : Your partner has shown six diamonds and five spades, and your miserable seven-count is transformed into gold. Even a jump to five diamonds may not do credit to this hand, but it is hard to see what else you can do. Perhaps partner can now bid slam with the right cards.


South Holds:

A 8
10 9 7 3 2
K 5 4 2
4 2


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


Curtis HerinkApril 17th, 2010 at 5:07 pm

I’m missing something here. If South wins the heart king, the lead is in dummy so it would take a second round of trump before a diamond could be ruffed. If the first heart is the ace so a diamond could be ruffed at the next trick, assuming East stays alert I don’t think the contract can be made. You need to provide more specifics about how you think the play will unfold.

Bobby WolffApril 17th, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Hi Curtis,

You are right and what should have been written is that South cashed a high heart and then ruffed a diamond in dummy…… Since it is the weekend and the staff at the site is not there, it probably is impossible for me to update until Monday. When Eric was at the site he used to send it to me in advance to proofread what they received from the syndicate, definitely true in this case and too often different from our writing, (in the original diagram North had the AJ84 of hearts and South the KQ65), but Eric, a young and talented intern, is no longer working there, having completed his internship, and the gremlins seemed to have assumed control.

I apologize for the inconvenience and will try to remedy it as soon as possible as well as to try and initiate safeguards against similar errors in the future.

Thanks for writing.

Stuart KingApril 18th, 2010 at 3:12 pm

I’ve corrected the post to the original. There was a typo — Dummy has the heart A, not Declarer.

TdMApril 19th, 2010 at 3:15 pm

I am sorry but, if East ruffs the spade after declarer had ruffed a Diamond, i don’t see how the contract can be made.

You can overruff East once with the HQ but if you draw trumps u have only 2 trumps left in dummy and 3 with East (plus DK).

And if you cross ruff, he will ruff before you (wth 10 or 9 and you can’t overruff this time) and then play trump.

I might have missed something, but would appreciate if you can explain in details how this could be made after declarer have cashed HK.

Many thanks.

Bobby WolffApril 19th, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Hi TdM,

Your analysis is right-on and ours the opposite. East has too many trumps and also having the 10, 9 makes for the setting trick as long as the defense does not stumble.

This particular hand has been bad news since it was published and I wholeheartedly regret it and apologize for the inconveniences and the poor analysis it has caused..

Thanks for catching it and setting it right for the readers.