Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, March 14th, 2013

She shamed to prize
A world conditioned thus, or care for breath
Where Nature such dilemmas could devise.

Thomas Hardy

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


Deciding whether to trump a winner or a loser is a common dilemma on defense. An unusual variation of the theme of whether to ruff in or discard comes on hands like today's.

West has to make two good plays as second hand to beat five diamonds, after being given a chance by declarer. On the club lead declarer wins the ace and would do best, as the cards lie, to draw only one round of trump before taking the club discard on the spades. If, instead, he cashes the diamond ace and king, then leads out the top three spades to pitch the club, West must refrain from ruffing.

West knows he cannot prevent declarer from discarding dummy’s losing club whether he ruffs or not, but there is a better use for the trump than ruffing a winner — drawing two of the opponent’s trumps. If West mistakenly ruffs in, then declarer gives up a heart and crossruffs the rest. So West must pitch a club on the third spade, after which declarer will try to sneak a heart through. If he can duck the trick to East, he will be able to play along crossruff lines.

Instead, West must hop up with the heart 10 on the first round of the suit, insuring he wins the first or second heart. He cannot now be prevented from drawing one round of trump, then tapping dummy with a club, preventing the establishment of the hearts.

You are certainly good enough to bid again, and you have the choice of the simpler spade call (suggesting your basic hand-pattern) or doubling. The double sounds like extra values, with perhaps a more balanced hand than this, or more playable in clubs than a doubleton, so the simple call of one spade looks best.


♠ A Q 8 5
 7 6
 A K 9 6 4
♣ A 6
South West North East
1 Dbl. 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 2013. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


GregoryMarch 28th, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Looks like the only case to pull 2nd round of trumps would be Di 2-2 and SP 6-1 ( Di 2-2 and Sp 5-2 would surrender overtrick but contract is save since defense have no communication to organize second ruff)
So not only good defense but declarer misstep since above is much less likely then 3-1 Di break

bobbywolffMarch 28th, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Hi Gregory,

Exactly, making bridge the way it is, unpredictable and demanding to following the particular hand and not a flawed set of rules which may or may not apply to the specific hand involved.

Thanks for writing and do not be a stranger.