Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: E-W


Q 10 4 2

5 2

A 6 2

K J 5 2



A K Q 10 7 4

Q 10 9 8

10 3


J 9 8

J 8

7 5 3

Q 9 8 7 4


A K 7 5 3

9 6 3

K J 4

A 6


South West North East
1 2 3 Pass
4 All Pass

Opening Lead: King

“Everything has been said, yet few have taken advantage of it. Since all our knowledge is essentially banal, it can only be of value to minds that are not.”

— Raoul Vaneigem

There are some themes dear to the hearts of bridge writers. As a consequence these themes come up more frequently in bridge columns than in real life. Today’s deal falls into that category, but that should not detract from your enjoying the problem and its solution.


With that huge hint, consider how you would play four spades after West leads three top hearts, East having echoed on the first two rounds.


The auction and the play have strongly suggested that hearts are 6-2 and that there is a danger of an overruff in hearts. If you ruff the third heart with dummy’s spade 10, East may overruff and leave you to rely on the diamond finesse. If you ruff the third heart high, you will need the spade jack to fall in two rounds or for the diamond finesse to be working. In each case you can somewhat improve on your chances by trying to ruff out the club queen, but as you will see, the layout of the cards today means that all routes are doomed to failure.


With so many unsuccessful scenarios, it may surprise you to discover that there is an equally simple route to success, one that will essentially insure your contract unless trumps are 4-0. Simply discard a diamond from dummy on the third heart. Now you can obtain the lead, draw trumps, and ruff a diamond in dummy at your leisure.


South Holds:

10 6 3 2
J 8 7 3
K 7
J 10 9


South West North East
  2 Pass 2
Pass 3 Pass 3
Pass 4 Pass 6
All Pass      
ANSWER: No one could fault you for leading from your club sequence, but there is a more creative shot available. Imagine that you lead your diamond seven. Declarer does not know he has a trump loser yet, so if dummy has the A-Q, he may reject the diamond finesse and find a way to create two losers for himself where Fate had only created one!


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 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


John Howard GibsonJanuary 18th, 2011 at 12:36 am


It’s amazing how simple this game can be, but how the obvious isn’t all that obvious at the table. The knee-jerk reaction is to ruff in dummy ( fatal ) as this guarantees a spade trick for the defence with a diamond to come. The loser on a loser principle should stare everyone in the face, but all too often we are caught looking in another direction.

bobbywolffJanuary 18th, 2011 at 1:24 am


Amen my dear Brit.

For many, it might be simpler to test hands at the earliest possible moment (in this case trick 3) for all gambits, a term usually reserved for chess, but, in fact, equally applicable to bridge.

To mention a few often required for success special plays, try avoidance, end plays, suit establishment, creating and maintaining entries back and forth, deception, squeeze play possibilities, discovery plays and, of course, the one featured on this hand, loser on loser. In years to come we will graduate to coups, grand coups, smother plays, reversing the dummy, and all sorts of exotic squeezes perhaps one awaiting to be named after the first executor.

Perhaps it is now the right time to mention what a famous football coach (John MacKay, while being the head coach of his beloved University of Southern California Trojans) once replied to a reporter who wondered what he had thought of his teams execution in the just completed game. “I’m in favor of it”

Like most everything else, that list sounds complicated and most difficult to hurdle, but once done, experience will lead one through the choices and on to success.

Thanks for philosophically identifying the thought process, which in 99 out of 100 cases will continue to get easier. Don’t despair, just execute!