Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: All


J 10 5

9 6 4 3

K 9 3

K Q 5



A K 8 2

Q 10 2

9 7 4 3 2


9 7 4 2

Q J 10 7

J 6

A J 10


A K Q 8 6


A 8 7 5 4

8 6


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

Opening Lead: K

“Common sense is the best distributed commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.”

— Rene Descartes

Against your contract of four spades West leads the heart king, on which East plays the queen, promising the jack. West continues with the heart two, to East’s 10. How do you plan to bring home your game?

You can always make 10 tricks provided the diamonds are 3-2 and neither defender can get a club ruff, but you must focus on the essentials. The first move, of course, is to ruff the heart 10. Next, you play a club to dummy’s king. Suppose East takes that with the ace, and hoping to shorten your trumps inconveniently, plays a third heart (nothing else is better). After ruffing this with the trump eight, you cash your three minor-suit winners, then play a third round of diamonds.

As you will have already made six tricks, then when West wins his diamond queen, he has no winning defense. Leading a heart will just help you in your crossruff, so his best shot is to lead a trump. You play dummy’s five and win the trick with the queen. You can make the next three tricks on a crossruff.

If East had returned a trump after winning the club ace, you would have won it in hand and played ace, king and another diamond. Either you will be able to follow the approach suggested above if the defenders revert to the forcing game, or, on a nonheart return, you can draw trumps and claim.


South Holds:

J 10 5
9 6 4 3
K 9 3
K Q 5


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 Pass 1 Pass
1 NT Pass 2 Pass
ANSWER: Your partner has suggested six diamonds and four spades, and may have quite a reasonable hand, unaware of what suitable holdings you have in both his suits. Raise to three diamonds to let him know you have not given up hope of game; he can decide what to do next — if anything.


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


jim2November 16th, 2010 at 6:59 pm

If the defense shifts to a trump after the club ace, declarer plays the minors the same way but, if a second trump is continued, finishes drawing trump and runs diamonds. Is that right?

(BTW, should it be “already made five tricks” and winning the last four on the high crossruff?)

bobbywolffNovember 17th, 2010 at 2:15 am

Hi Jim2,

Basically the declarer is giving EW a Hobson’s choice of:

If they try to stop a cross ruff, trumps can be drawn and 4 diamond tricks made to go along with 5 trump tricks and 1 clubs trick. If they try and force declarer, making East the master trump hand, declarer will take 3 heart ruffs and 1 club ruff in hand, 3 trump tricks in dummy 2 high diamonds and 1 high club. either way making his 10 trick contract.

Either way it will add up to ten tricks, but the prose should challenge the reader to add them up himself and doing so whichever way the defense makes it happen.

In some ways this type of hand is easier to write about and yet to others, it is harder to understand.

BTW, just very recently I was gifted a book called “Innumeracy” which should help explain to curious readers why bridge is harder for some than others. It does not have to do with any IQ factor, but rather instead, whether numbers rule one’s mind instead of being difficult (but not in any way impossible) for others. This unusual book certainly rings bells for me and after many years of wondering why?