Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 15th, 2011

Vulnerable: Both

Dealer: South


A 10 9

8 7 5 4 3 2

J 10 8 6


6 2

A Q J 6 4

J 6

A K 5 2


5 4 3

9 8 5


Q 9 7 4 3


K Q J 8 7

K 10 7 3 2

A 10 9


South West North East
1 2 2 3
4 All pass

Opening Lead: Club king

“Who is he that hath everything according to his will? Neither I, nor thou, nor any man upon the earth.”

— Thomas a Kempis

After South optimistically jumped to four spades at his second turn, West led the club king and declarer ruffed. Unthinking players would now start immediately on the crossruff, without taking the trouble to observe that this line of play would inevitably leave them one short of the contract.

South found a better play at the second trick when he led ace and another diamond. The 2-2 split was very good news for declarer, but now East’s return was clearly marked with the threat of the established diamonds confronting him. He shifted to a heart to force dummy.

When South’s 10 fetched the jack, it was clear to declarer that there was still no advantage in ruffing and reverting to the crossruff. There would still be only nine tricks total.

So South refused the apparent gift of a ruff on the board. Instead, he discarded a club, leaving West in a hopeless position. If West played a club, an overtrick would be made by ruffing clubs twice more and throwing the blocking diamond nine from hand on the third trump in dummy.

If West played a heart, be it a high or low one, he would set up the 10th trick, the rest of the hand being played on a crossruff. So West played a trump — his best shot. However, declarer drew two rounds of trump and played the third diamond. East could trump this, but it was the defenders’ last trick, since dummy was high.


South holds:

A 10 9
8 7 5 4 3 2
J 10 8 6


South West North East
2 2
Pass Pass 2 Pass
ANSWER: The normal treatment of your pass of two hearts is that it suggests some values. (An immediate double would be a negative double.) When your partner shows a real spade suit, you can emphasize your support and your heart control by jumping to four hearts. This suggests a singleton or void in hearts, and from here on you can let partner take control.


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


Bruce KarlsonApril 29th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Another great illustration of obvious but counter intuitive tactics that are too often missed: Happy to say that I declined the cross ruff and then went into the tank to solve the “impossible diamond block” and came up empty. One simply does not “give” the opps a ruff with a low trump, unless of course one wnats to make the contract…

bobbywolffApril 29th, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Hi Bruce,

Your current comment captures a certain essence of the game which you describe well.

The subtlety involved in our superior game of forcing the opponents to help by giving them a Hobson’s choice, either of which, of course, will be enabling to the declarer, and thus be uplifting to the player executing it.

The price to pay for these episodes of ecstasy only involve the simple learning of the game itself.

Teddy Roosevelt might have described it as “Speak softly, carry a big stick, but learn how to play a game which will enrich your whole life”.

Thanks for your continued beautification.