Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: North-South


K J 6 5

A K Q 8 7

J 7 5 3



10 3

A 9 8 6 3

K Q 8 6 4


Q 10 9 4 3


K 7 5 4

10 9 2


A 8 2

J 9 6 5 2

Q J 10 2



South West North East
1 2 NT 6 All Pass

Opening Lead: Club King

“It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well.”

— Rene Descartes

In today’s deal West’s two-no-trump overcall showed at least 5-5 in the minors. North’s jump to six hearts is the kind of bid I approve of — a fair shot on a hand where it would be impossible to find out scientifically whether slam, or even a grand, would be a good proposition. Plan the play on the lead of the club king.


There are two possible lines of play: one is a complete crossruff. For that to work, you will need both the spade ace and king to live, but West may well have started with a singleton spade. A better line is simply to play for West to have at least one of the outstanding diamond honors, surely nearly 100% on the bidding.


Win the club ace and cash the ace of trump. If West shows out, you can change tack and go for the complete crossruff line, starting by cashing the spade ace and king, then ruffing clubs in hand and diamonds in dummy.


However, if both opponents followed suit on the trump ace, play a heart to your jack and run the diamond queen, pitching a spade from the dummy. Ruff East’s club return and play the diamond jack, probably covered by West. Ruff in the dummy, come back to hand with a club ruff, and cash the diamond 10, discarding another spade from dummy. Now a spade to the king, a spade to the ace and a spade ruff in the dummy bring your trick total to 12.


South Holds:

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


South West North East
    2 2
ANSWER: It is important for a partnership to agree if this hand is good enough for a two-spade call in competition (most would say no, but would bid two spades if the spade queen were the king). If not, which is weaker, double or pass? One can play it either way, but I believe more play double as a double negative, with pass showing moderate values. This hand would therefore qualify for a pass.


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


angelo romanoNovember 4th, 2011 at 9:16 am

Dear Mr. Wolff, for a complete crossruff after the H Ace you have to give a spade to East before, so he can play back a heart and you have no more 12 tricks, I believe

jim2November 4th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

On that cross-ruff, I am not sure BOTH top spades must live.

That is, West may need to be void in spades to stop the cross-ruff:

1) AC

2) D ruff

3) AH

4) C ruff

5) D ruff

6) C ruff

7) D ruff

8) C ruff

9) D ruff

10) AS

11) JH

12) KS

Bobby WolffNovember 4th, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Hi Angelo,

The column suggests that a complete crossruff would only be attempted if West shows out on the 1st heart, making cashing 2 spades 100% (based on the bidding) and then taking 2 spades, 1 club, l heart and 8 cross ruffs. If West follows to a heart then establishing a diamond trick for trick #12 does the deed.

Bobby WolffNovember 4th, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, your analysis seems 100%, but the bidding, although against the percentages, does possibly suggest that West might be void in spades, making the extra diamond trick the line of choice.

jim2November 4th, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Oh, I quite agree on the recommended line. I was merely quibbling.

Welcome back.