Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dealer: West

Vul: N/S


Q 8 7 6 4

Q 9 6

K 8 6 2



J 3

7 4 2

A Q 10 5 4 3

5 3


A K 10 9 5

8 5


J 10 9 7 2



A K J 10 3

J 7

A Q 8 6 4


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

Opening Lead: J

“Mr. Podsnap had even acquired a peculiar flourish of his right arm in often clearing the world of its most difficult problems, by sweeping them behind him.”

— Charles Dickens

When declarer knows that his shortages lie over the defenders’ so that he cannot be overruffed, it is often better to play on crossruff lines rather than drawing trumps. Today’s deal provides a good example.

West led the spade jack against four hearts, overtaken by East’s king, and a diamond came back to the ace, followed by the diamond queen. Declarer quite naturally covered with the king, and East scored his heart eight, but then mistakenly tried to cash his spade ace, thinking the diamond queen was suit preference. A heart return would have been the killer here.

In practice, though, declarer ruffed the spade ace high, played a club to the king and followed with the heart queen, a heart to his ace and a club ruff. Now he ruffed a diamond back to hand and drew trumps, hoping that his long clubs would be good. When the 5-2 break came to light, he had to go one down.

Declarer should have considered a 5-2 club break likely as soon as he discovered that East had only five spades and a singleton diamond. But there was no need for declarer to draw trumps. Suppose instead that after ruffing the spade ace, he had played a club to the king and ruffed a diamond. Now he can safely play the top clubs. If clubs break 4-3, South ruffs a club and draws trump. When West ruffs the third club, declarer overruffs, ruffs a diamond in hand with the heart 10, and ruffs a club in dummy with the heart nine. Then the last three tricks can be made on a high crossruff.


South Holds:

Q 8 7 6 4
Q 9 6
K 8 6 2


South West North East
Pass 1 Pass 1
ANSWER: It is by no means guaranteed that you have a safe way into your opponents’ auction, but if you feel like bidding, you can risk a double here safely enough. Normally, one tends to bid a five-card major rather than make a takeout double here, but your spades are so weak that showing your two suits looks like the most flexible action.


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