Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, August 3rd, 2012

It's true hard work never killed anybody, but I figure, why take the chance?

Ronald Reagan

West North
Neither ♠ A 8 2
 A 2
 J 10 3
♣ J 10 8 4 3
West East
♠ 7 3
 K Q J 9 7 6
 8 6
♣ 7 6 5
♠ 10 6 5
 10 8 5 3
 K Q 9 4
♣ 9 2
♠ K Q J 9 4
 A 7 5 2
♣ A K Q
South West North East
2 Pass 4
4♠ Pass 6♠ All pass


In today's six-spade contract, the dummy comes down, you could justifiably echo the words of Ronald Reagan when he wakes up in bed and can't find his legs: "Where's the rest of me?"

How will you justify partner’s trust in you when the heart king is led?

Five tricks in each black suit and the two red aces will bring the total to 12. The club suit is blocked, though, so the question is how to untangle your tricks.

One possibility is to win the heart lead, draw two rounds of trumps with the king and queen, then try to cash the three top clubs. If the last trump is in the hand with three or more clubs, you can cross to the spade ace and score two more club tricks for the contract. This will not work today; East will ruff the third club, and you will be one trick short.

The answer is a spectacular one — and once you’ve seen the theme, you will not forget it. All you have to do is to lead the heart two at trick two, discarding your club ace! (If you don’t have a flair for the dramatic, you can throw the club queen instead.) On any return you will be able to play the king and queen of trumps, followed by your two remaining winners in the club suit. You can then cross to the trump ace and score three more club tricks, throwing all your losing diamonds.

In this sequence your partner's double is pure takeout. Your partner suggests five or six clubs and three or four hearts, with at minimum a sound opening bid. It is unusual to pass low-level takeout doubles, but with three trump tricks and no guaranteed fit, it looks a sporting gamble to try to penalize the opponents. Even if two diamonds doubled makes, at least it is not game!


♠ 10 6 5
 10 8 5 3
 K Q 9 4
♣ 9 2
South West North East
Pass 1♠ 2♣ 2
Pass Pass Dbl. 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 WarheitAugust 17th, 2012 at 10:47 am

One can also duck the opening lead for exactly the same effect. A trivial point, to be sure.

jim2August 17th, 2012 at 12:13 pm

That’s what I “did” also, when I read it.

I confess to playing the AC on the AH.


bobby wolffAugust 17th, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Hi David,

Yes, of course, except for losing the thrill of discarding an ace on a losing deuce from dummy, but, your play works better if East had xx, 109x, KQxxxx, xx, unlikely, to be sure, but possible and to make things even worse, the secondary poor line mentioned in the column would also have worked.

Bruce KarlsonAugust 17th, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Suppose Bobby Wolff is leading and sniffs the air after a duck. He can put one heart with south from the auction. If he switches suits at trick #2 I think dummy develops an entry problem.

jim2August 17th, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Bruce –

Say the shift is a diamond (others similar).

Declarer wins in hand, cashes KQ trump, cashes KQ clubs, crosses to AS, pitches AC on AH, and runs clubs.