Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: East-West


K 10 8

K 9 2

A J 6 5 2

A 9


3 2

10 5 4 3

Q 10 8 7 3

J 4


9 7 6


K 9

K Q 10 6 5 3 2


A Q J 5 4

A Q J 8 6


8 7


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 3 Pass
4 Pass 4 NT Pass
5 * Pass 7 All Pass
*Two key-cards and the spade queen

Opening Lead: Spade Two

“Of all human follies there’s none could be greater

Than trying to render our fellow-men better.”

— Moliere

In today’s deal, you are South. Plan the play in seven spades after West leads the trump two. You appear to have a club loser in both hands. You can pitch a club from dummy but only after drawing trump — so that won’t do you any good. What can you do to avoid the ugly fate of going down in a freely bid grand slam?


You must aim to reverse the dummy, which means taking ruffs in the long hand and drawing trump with the short hand. You can achieve this by ruffing three diamonds in the South hand. This will give you three trump tricks, three diamond ruffs, two minor-suit aces and five heart tricks. This line requires trump to behave. If they don’t, you really have no chance at all.


So win the trump lead with your jack, play a diamond to the ace, and ruff a diamond in hand.


Now you need to cross to dummy to take another diamond ruff. Which honor should you cross to? It is vital to cross to dummy with the heart king because otherwise, as here, someone might be able to discard his singleton heart on the next diamond. The general tip is that when in doubt in playing a crossruff, you should always use the dangerous entry first.


This deal comes from “52 Great Bridge Tips on Declarer Play” by David Bird.


South Holds:

A Q J 5 4
A Q J 8 6
8 7


South West North East
  1 Pass 1
1 2 Pass Pass
ANSWER: The auction may seem surprising, even suspicious, but your partner has the opportunity to overcall or raise spades and did not do so. Accordingly, he appears to have a bust, with a lot of minor-suit cards. Since a double of two hearts would be takeout (hearts have been bid and raised and you are facing a passed partner), what can you do but 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


jim2November 23rd, 2011 at 6:33 pm

I agree with the column line, and “played” it that way when i read it in the paper.

Still, the defenders would have to discard carefully if declarer drew trump, cashed the AC and all the rest of the major suit winners, putting the lead at trick #11 in the closed hand holding two minor suit singletons with the board retaining the AJ of diamonds.

On the bidding quiz, what would you recommend as the opening lead?

Bobby WolffNovember 23rd, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Hi Jim2,

I would recommend the Queen of Hearts opening lead to:

1. Eliminate the probable 4-3 heart fit as quickly as possible with an excellent chance if there is Kxx in dummy that declarer would duck the first round all around to his eventual dismay.

2. Even if the king is held by declarer, we would be well under way to drawing trumps as quickly as we can to next go about the task of setting our spades up. I will expect, along with a few scattered high minor suit cards from partner to set this hand 3 or 4 tricks.