Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, November 16th, 2012

When … all the world had swords and clubs of stone,
We drank our tea in China beneath the sacred spice-trees,
And heard the curled waves of the harbor moan.

Vachel Lindsay

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


Today's deal sees an interesting and quite difficult variation of a safety play; give it a few seconds' thought before starting the play!

In the contract of six hearts the opening diamond lead goes to the jack and ace. Declarer follows up with the heart ace and queen, drawing all the trump. At this point declarer has 11 tricks (two spades, six hearts, the diamond ace, a diamond ruff, and a sure club trick). East is marked with the club ace, and the best hope for a second club trick is to find the clubs 4-3.

However, an extra chance comes by ducking the first club altogether in case West has five or six clubs. Suppose East wins cheaply and plays the spade queen. Win the spade king and ruff a club low. When the ace falls, declarer has 12 tricks. But suppose, instead, that East had three or four clubs headed by the ace.

After the second club is ruffed, the diamond six is ruffed in dummy. Now the club king is played from North. East’s ace is ruffed out, and the heart king is the entry to the two club winners in dummy.

In other words, by ducking the first club and ruffing the second club before playing out the top honors, you make the contract whenever East has the club ace and fewer than five clubs, instead of relying on the clubs to break.

Your hand may not be quite worth an overcall, but the advantage of bidding two clubs is that you get partner off to the right lead against either a heart or no-trump overcall. When you are in doubt, one thing to take into account with an overcall is whether you really want that suit led, and DON'T want any other suit led.


♠ K 9 7
 K 6 5 3
♣ K Q 6 4 2
South West North East
Pass 1 Pass 1♠

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


Iain ClimieNovember 30th, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Hi Mr. Wolff,

I must admit that I’d probably have missed this play but would have ruffed a diamond at trick 2 and tried a small club off the table. This isn’t nearly as good, as I’d have used an entry to table too early, but I suspect it would have worked nicely as the cards lie.


Iain Climie

bobby wolffNovember 30th, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Hi Iain,

Thanks always for your ingenious comment which only adds to all reader’s imagination, whether or not, it is best percentage.

Just one of the great advantages of teaching bridge in early school learning around the world is to introduce numeracy to our youngsters and already accomplished in much of Europe and China and the above column represents only one advantage in so learning.

When North America is introduced to the significant logic which playing the game of bridge introduces to a young mind, including legal partnership communication via code (bidding), psychology of outwitting, arithmetic of card combinations, pressure competition with peers, judgment acquired through experience together with sometimes just introducing luck by figuratively rolling the dice, all players will just begin to understand the majesty of the game itself.

Until North America succeeds in delivering bridge into our early schooling, we will forever be denied the scintillating thrill of developing our minds in a very pleasurable, but most successful way.

For readers and followers of this blogging site, the above attributes are present on almost a daily basis.

A great big THANK YOU to all who participate!