Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dealer: East

Vul: E/W


Q 6 3

K 2

A J 10 5

J 10 9 8


A K 10 9 4 2

10 5 3


K 6 4



Q J 7 6 4

Q 9 7 6

7 5 3


J 7 5

A 9 8

K 4 3 2

A Q 2


South West North East
1 2 3 All Pass

Opening Lead: K

“Few things are impossible to diligence and skill.”

— Samuel Johnson

The normal effect of a ruff and sluff is to allow declarer to succeed in an otherwise unmakable contract. So how are you to know when the right moment has arrived? In principle, it is when declarer can be placed with all the missing side-suit honors.

In this deal, from the 2008 Warren Buffett Cup, Jill Meyers led her two top spades against three diamonds, then continued with the spade deuce, ruffed by Larry Cohen. East dutifully returned the club requested by Meyers’ suit-preference signal.

Declarer, Sabine Auken, was at the crossroads. Her opponents, who numbered among the cream of the world’s players, were well capable of psychic signaling. Auken reasoned that if West held the club king in addition to her spade honors, she might have made a simple overcall rather than a weak jump.

Additionally, rising with the ace, then discovering later that the club king was onside, could cost heavily in the scoring (which was closer to pairs than teams). Moreover, nobody likes to concede a psychological edge in this way. So South inserted her queen, West captured it, and believing that there were no further plain-suit defensive tricks to come, returned another spade.

This proffered ruff and discard was the killer defense. If declarer ruffed low in dummy or discarded, East would ruff in with the nine, forcing South’s king and ensuring that his queen would score a trick. And if declarer ruffed with the diamond jack, East would discard, establishing a trump trick for himself.


South Holds:

J 7 5
A 9 8
K 4 3 2
A Q 2


South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
ANSWER: There is no perfect call to describe this hand, but sometimes the simplest ways are best. With the opponents’ suit properly guarded, you can simply jump to three no-trump to show a balanced opening bid and end the auction facing anything but an exceptional hand.


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