Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 9th, 2012

I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.

Abraham Lincoln

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


When declarer has only seven or eight trumps between his hand and dummy, he often needs to resort to special efforts to retain control. Today's deal is just such an example — declarer has only a combined holding of seven trumps, AND they break poorly.

Against four hearts, the lead was the spade king, then the queen, and the spade jack was overtaken by the ace. If declarer blithely ruffs in and draws trumps he must go down; East has longer trumps than South and can play on spades every time he regains the lead.

To retain control, South must discard a club at trick three. Now, on a nonspade continuation, declarer romps home. But what happens if East plays a fourth spade? South must discard a club and ruff in dummy with the heart 10. After taking the heart jack, he plays a diamond to the king and takes the heart ace. Again, if trumps had split, declarer would be home. As it is, South notes the bad break and next plays the club ace and king. If East ruffs, South can overruff, draw trumps and claim. If East discards, South discards a diamond. Now the club queen offers East the same choice. When he discards again, South pitches his diamond king and leads a plain card to score all his trumps whatever East does.

In the end, declarer makes five trumps in hand, the heart 10 on table and four minor-suit tricks.

Whenever a responder has game-forcing values, he should consider at his second turn using the fourth suit. Here, a call of two diamonds sets up a game force and helps South find out more about his partner's shape and stoppers. Since partner could have six clubs and a void in hearts, it is time to explore whether clubs, hearts or no-trump is the best strain to play.


♠ 7 4
 A K Q 8 5
 K 6 5
♣ 9 7 2
South West North East
1♣ Pass
1 Pass 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