Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Who saves his country, saves himself, saves all things, and all things saved do bless him! Who lets his country die, lets all things die, dies himself ignobly, and all things dying curse him!

Benjamin Hill

South North
East-West ♠ Q 7 5 2
 10 2
 A J 10 6 3
♣ A K
West East
♠ 4
 Q J 8 7
 9 7 2
♣ Q J 10 7 3
♠ 9 8 6 3
 K Q 8 5
♣ 9 6 5 2
♠ A K J 10
 A K 9 6 5 3
♣ 8 4
South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
2♠ Pass 3♠ Pass
4 Pass 4 NT Pass
5♣ Pass 5 NT Pass
6 Pass 6♠ All pass


In six spades, after winning the club queen in dummy, you should cash the trump ace. If trumps are 5-0, you will need the hearts to be 3-2 on most layouts. As a result you will cash the heart ace and king and ruff a heart with the trump queen before returning to hand with a trump to play on hearts. All you will lose is a trump.

When both opponents follow to the first round of trump, it would be a mistake to draw a second round. If you do, you no longer have the entries to establish the hearts when both majors are 4-1.

So, cash the heart ace, then lead a low heart to the next trick. If instead you try to cash the heart king, East will ruff and the contract will fail. (When East returns a trump, you cannot then ruff two hearts and draw East’s last trump, so you will have to concede a heart trick to West.)

But when you correctly play a low heart at trick three, what can the defense do? You can win a minor-suit shift and return to hand with a trump to ruff a low heart with dummy’s queen. Then, since there will still be a trump remaining in dummy, you can draw the remaining trump ending in hand and follow by running the hearts. You will make four trumps, four hearts, a heart ruff and the three minor-suit winners.

Anyone who responded one spade for fear of losing the spade fit should go to the back of the class. It works far better to respond two diamonds, bidding long suits before short ones, then if necessary introducing the spades over a two-heart rebid. By making the two-over-one response, you set up a forcing auction and describe your hand more accurately.


♠ Q 7 5 2
 10 2
 A J 10 6 3
♣ A K
South West North East
1 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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


David WarheitJune 13th, 2012 at 10:48 am

If hearts are 5-0 and east has all 5, you must go down. If west has all 5, however, there is a glimmer of hope. Declarer must lead a heart at trick 2 and hope that if east is void of hearts and has exactly 3 spades, that he will ruff in. If he does, declarer can draw trump in just 2 leads and then ruff 2 hearts in dummy, ruffing back to his hand each time to make his contract. If east doesn’t ruff the first heart, oh, well. So, although there’s only a 2% chance that east is void in hearts, reduced to 1% that he has exactly 3 spades and reduced to ?% that he will ruff in, it costs you nothing to lead a heart toward your hand at trick 2.

bobby wolffJune 13th, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Hi David,

Thanks for your excellent, no, even better than that, analysis. If there becomes a demand, or even a small clamor for perfection, there is no doubt in my choice for whom the bell tolls.

You possess a rare talent for leaving nothing to the imagination in clearing up loose ends, as well as covering the details.

Thanks always for your considerable effort to educate all who aspire to the same heights you do.