Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, April 5, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: Both

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


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

Opening Lead: 10

“Nor force nor fraud shall sunder us! O ye

Who north or south, on east or western land,

Native to noble sounds, say truth for truth….”

— Sydney Dobell

Today’s deal shows an application of the forcing no-trump, fast becoming part of Standard American. North’s combination of no-trump response followed by the jump in hearts suggests three trumps and about an 11-count. South has enough in aces and shape to accept the invitation.


When dummy comes down, 10 tricks may seem relatively easy if a spade is ruffed in dummy. Alas, on the trump lead the danger is all too obvious. If the defenders can regain the lead quickly and declarer misguesses spades, the defenders might lead a third trump, causing South to lose two trumps and two spades.


The first question is whether to win or duck the first trump. Ducking the first heart is good technique. It allows a second round of trumps to be drawn — which works to declarer’s advantage, without chancing that the fatal third round will be led.


When South wins the second heart lead and West follows suit, how should you play the spades to best effect? The answer is that no lie of the cards can beat declarer if he ruffs three diamonds in his hand, a technique called reversing the dummy. He cashes the diamond ace and ruffs three diamonds by using dumnmy’s clubs as entries. If a defender ruffs in at any point, then the only other loser will be a spade. At the end of the operation, declarer will have won two aces in the majors and eight minor-suit tricks. He can then gracefully retire.

ANSWER: I seldom advocate the underlead of an ace, but if ever there was a moment to experiment with such a dangerous act, this is it! You must try to set up tricks quickly, and my guess is that the heart lead won’t catch declarer with a singleton, so it is relatively safe — as these things go.


South Holds:

4 2
A 8 2
5 4 3 2
J 8 7 6


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