Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: Both

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


* Game-forcing with spades

** Short Clubs

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

Opening Lead: 8

“The best of prophets of the future is the past.”

— Lord Byron

In today’s deal South shows first club shortage, then a club void. After North’s encouraging three-spade bid, nothing will keep South out of slam.


But how you should plan the play in six spades on West’s passive trump lead?


Obviously you will succeed if East has the diamond king, but you can also succeed if West has the club king. Win the trump lead, draw a second trump ending in dummy, then cash the club ace and ruff a club. Now play off three rounds of hearts, ending in dummy, and lead the club queen.


If East plays low, you can discard a diamond, and when West wins, he will be endplayed. He can either lead a diamond into your tenace or give you a ruff-sluff to let you ruff in dummy and discard your diamond queen from hand.


If East plays the club king on the queen, nothing has been lost. You ruff, cash the diamond ace, play a trump to dummy, then lead a diamond toward your queen. All things being equal, you plan to put the queen on in due course, thus taking the finesse against East. But this line is better than taking a straightforward diamond finesse on the first round of the suit. The point is that if West started life with the doubleton diamond king, he will be endplayed upon winning this trick. Again, the ruff-sluff will let you pitch your diamond loser from hand while ruffing in the dummy.

ANSWER: Your partner’s cue-bid of two hearts shows extras and asks you to describe your hand further. Your first duty is to bid no-trump with a heart stop, or to raise partner, or otherwise describe your hand by bidding a second suit or showing extra length in your first suit. Here a simple bid of three diamonds shows your support and lets partner decide where to go from here.


South Holds:

8 4
J 7 6
K J 9
K J 10 5 4


South West North East
Pass Pass 1 1
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


TdMMay 7th, 2010 at 11:42 am


If you discard a diamond on CQ, you still have 3 D in dummy for A-Q-x in hand.

Therefore, the best line is probably what you suggest by ruffing all clubs and cashing DA before ending in dummy (after 3 rounds of H) to play D to DQ, in case DK is onside or 2nd offside.

Unfortunately, nothing works except a spectacular D-C squeeze on West.

Please let me know if you agree, thanks.

TdMMay 7th, 2010 at 11:43 am

sorry made a mistake, thanks

Bobby WolffMay 7th, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Hi TdM,

Believe it or not, your process of thinking is the way to success.

Once you see various ways to execute throw-ins and end plays, and you already now have, you will be much better placed to execute different types of them next time.

Playing advanced bridge is not really an instinctive talent. Since it is a delicate blend of simple arithmetic and card combinations centered around the unalterable advantage for the partnershiip to be able to play 2d and 4th to a trick instead of 1st and 3rd, bridge wisdom and its nuances, begins to grow in the mind.

The one thing not to do, if getting better is your goal, is to sluff off opportunities to think about the game. Playing excellent bridge is difficult, especially at first, but impossible, Heavens, No! Will you make mistakes along the way, Of Course!, but the only terminal one would be to give up prematurely.

Stay with it and bridge will likely give you infinite pleasure. Thanks for responding.