Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, May 17, 2010

Dealer: East

Vul: None

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


South West North East
3 Pass 4 All Pass

Opening Lead: King

“You’re leaping over the hedge before you come to the stile.”

— Miguel de Cervantes

Today’s deal is perhaps misleadingly straightforward, until you consider the implications of the auction. If you declare four hearts from the South seat, you’d imagine there would be no problem in taking 10 tricks. You’d expect to be able to draw trumps and ruff a spade in dummy.


However, the auction has indicated that spades will surely split 6-0, and if trumps are 4-0, you may find that the route to 10 tricks will be a rocky one if you don’t start out properly.


The key to the deal is that even if hearts do break 4-0, you will not be able to trump a spade in the dummy without your spade ace getting ruffed away. However, the hearts in dummy are robust enough to be used to draw West’s trumps.


This means that a dummy reversal is the safest line: win the diamond ace, ruff a diamond, play a heart to the king, and ruff a diamond high. Then take the heart queen, followed by a heart to dummy to draw trumps and claim.


One piece of advice that bridge columns give the improving player is to get the women and children off the streets — i.e., draw trumps as soon as possible. But the corollary is that if you want to ruff the side suits, don’t draw trumps.


Try to make the contract if you play anything but a diamond from the dummy at trick two.But don’t work too hard at it — it can’t be done!

ANSWER: Your partner’s double calls for an unusual lead, typically with a void and a trick on the side. He did not have to double to get you to lead a club (you would probably have done that without the double, since East was clearly ready for a heart lead), so with some fear and trembling, lead a low diamond. Maybe your RHO is 5-5 in spades and diamonds.


South Holds:

Q 2
10 9 5 3 2
Q 5 3
7 5 2


South West North East
  1 1 1
3 3 Pass 6
Pass Pass Dbl. 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 2010. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Felix ShenMay 31st, 2010 at 10:04 am

Mr. Wolff, there seems to be something wrong in the bidding process – 2S followed by 2H?

Bobby WolffMay 31st, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Hi Felix,

The gremlins have arrived this morning, but hopefully in the next hour South’s 2 heart insufficient overcall will magically be reproduced as 3 hearts.

Thanks for writing and I apologize.

bruce karlsonMay 31st, 2010 at 3:26 pm

This is another example of the disasters that occasionally follow the “play first, think later” method. Absent the pre-empt, it would be VERY easy to go off a trick on this hand but an expert never would.

Insofar as there seems to be no way to ever get more than 10 tricks, there is no legitimate reason to do anything aside from the dummy reversal. I would bet the ranch, however, that 8 of 9 or 9 of 9 pairs in a club game would be off a trick… and no one would notice.

Unfortunately, the odds are high that I would be among them!!!!

Bobby WolffMay 31st, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Hi Bruce,

And me!

Don’t think for a minute that players, regardless of stature, do not, at times, play too quickly and too carelessly.

Zia, truly a great and highly imaginative player, once confessed that bridge often humbles him, and, after embarrassing him, not only doesn’t apologize, but rather looks forward to the next opportunity.

There are so many traits necessary in order to beard the bridge lion. Patience is one of them, and although all role models preach to their proteges, planning at trick one, when things look good, search for possible devils and when things look bad search for any winning line, it doesn’t mean all worthwhile players follow their own advice. What it does mean, at least to me, is that bridge, not us, is in control, and all we can do is know where the poisoned flowers are located, seek avoidance, and give one’s mind, heart and soul to the venture.

The emotional awards are worth it in no trump. A scholar would wonder how bridge could be worth all of that, but then again, many scholars do not even play the game.

Hang in there. From what I glean from your comments are that you have what it takes to get there (enough ability, love of the game, and, above all, the enthusiasm), so do not let yourself down.