Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 5th, 2011

Vulnerable: East-West

Dealer: South


A 10 5

9 7


A 10 9 7 5 4 3


Q 9 8 6 4

Q 8 3

10 7 6 2



K J 2

J 6

A J 8 4

Q J 6 2


7 3

A K 10 5 4 2

Q 9 5 3



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

Opening Lead: Spade six

“I created you while I was happy, while I was sad,

With so many incidents, so many details.”

— Constantine Cavafy

Sometimes, even when you can envision the general thrust of the defense, the finer point of the play may escape you. In today’s deal from a team game, the defenders followed general principles at one table, but looked a little deeper at the other.

Both Souths declared four hearts on the lead of the fourth-highest spade six, each West wisely deciding that they should not go after club ruffs. Declarer put up dummy’s ace, led a club to his king, then advanced the diamond king. Both Easts won the diamond ace and cashed the spade king as West followed with the four, making it clear that no more spades would stand up.

In both rooms East could see that declarer planned to discard a diamond loser on the clubs. To prevent ruffs in dummy, one defender played a trump. Declarer won the ace, ruffed a diamond, and pitched his last diamond on the club ace. Although West could ruff in, the remaining trumps fell and declarer claimed the balance in due course.

In the other room East decided to play West for three decent trumps. By continuing with a third spade, he set the defense up for a trump promotion. Declarer ruffed the spade, ruffed a diamond in dummy, then threw a diamond on the club ace. The difference was that when West ruffed in and played a fourth round of spades, East ruffed with the jack. This promoted West’s heart queen to the setting trick.


South holds:

7 3
A K 10 5 4 2
Q 9 5 3


South West North East
1 Pass
1 Pass 1 Pass
ANSWER: If you decide to force this hand to game, bid two diamonds, the fourth suit, then bid hearts. An alternative and quite reasonable approach is to treat the club king as a broken reed, in which case your hand is not worth driving to game. If so, the direct invitational jump to three hearts would be quite sufficient now.


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


HBJAugust 19th, 2011 at 9:09 pm

HBJ : Now that defence is pure visionary genius. To envisage the inevitable club ruff but (a) to set up, and then (b) rely on partner to play the 4th round of spades for that killing trump promotion, takes some doing.

Expert defenders seem able to conjure something out of nothing no matter how few values they possess. To suggest they could make two trumps tricks from their modest 3-2 holdings would be like saying pigs can fly. But hey…… in bridge it seems anything is possible if simple prayers are answered.

Bobby WolffAugust 19th, 2011 at 11:16 pm


Well said, except that defense, even very advanced, is simpler (and also more rewarding), than teaching pigs to fly.

The bidding is heard by all and soon East will know that declarer, South, has only 2 spades. Since, if South only had 5 hearts he surely would have bid his 5 card second suit, diamonds, but when declarer led a diamond to dummy West, playing standard count signals would play high, the seven, and presto changeo, East now knows that declarer is 6-4. BTW, when South cashes the king of clubs West also surmises that the King was singleton or else why did he now play it, risking a ruff with no particular gain, as soon as he now switches to diamonds.

And that beat goes on with almost every bridge hand which is played, involving at least one up and coming bridge lover. Like learning to ride a bicycle, once learned, never forgotten.

Everyone should reach that stage and then go forward from there.

Thanks for asking and prayers have little to do with success, but numeracy on the part of the players does.