Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Here is the reasoning that convinces me
So feelingly, each argument beside
Seems blunt and forceless in comparison.

Dante Alighieri

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


Against four spades West led the club king, then the queen. Declarer ruffed, then simply played trumps from the top. When they did not behave, he eventually cashed the diamond ace and used dummy's heart entry to play a diamond toward the queen. With the diamonds lying the way they did, there was no way to avoid two losers in the suit, and declarer finished up with just nine tricks.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with declarer’s play of the trump suit — the 2-2 break is more likely than a 3-1 break, and the overcall does not materially alter the odds in spades, though East has fewer clubs and thus more vacant spaces in his hand for trumps than does West. But the possibilities of an endplay are very real, and the winning line is one that you might fall into at the table.

After ruffing the second club, remember that since East did not raise clubs, West is likely to have the top club honors and thus be ripe for an endplay. Cash one top trump, then three hearts ending in dummy. If West can ruff in, you may be reduced to taking the diamond finesse; if not, run the spade jack on the second round of trumps.

As the cards lie, the finesse succeeds, but had trumps been 2-2, West would have won and could have done no better than play the third top club. You pitch your diamond loser and leave him endplayed for a ruff-sluff.

An alternative line after three rounds of hearts might be to run the club jack and discard a diamond on the trick.

Your hand is hard to judge, but you surely want to drive to four hearts and help your partner work out what to do if your opponents bid on to four spades. However, a bid of three spades simply shows a sound raise to four hearts. And a jump to four clubs should promise a fit, with much better clubs than this. Thus, the jump to game is all that is left. Sometimes simplest is best.


♠ 2
 J 10 9 3
 K 7 6
♣ Q 7 6 5 4
South West North East
Pass 1♠ 2 2♠

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


Iain ClimieMay 23rd, 2013 at 9:29 am

Hi Bobby,

Could it be even better to endplay West in clubs not trumps? Cash SA as before then three rounds of hearts ending in dummy then play the CJ dumping the D3. This works even if West has SQxx and DKx. If he has 1S and 4H then gives a ruff and discard, you ruff on table, East overruffs but you shed the DQ. Am I missing something or is it a small extra chance?

All the very best,


Yasser HaiderMay 23rd, 2013 at 10:03 am

Hi Bobby and Iain
What about even playing AK trumps at tricks 3&4 and then 3 rounds of hearts ending in dummy. Then JC pitching a diamond. I think this also works whenever trumps are 2-2 and when LHO has three to the queen.

Iain ClimieMay 23rd, 2013 at 10:11 am

Hi Yasser,

If West has SQxx he cashes it and exits safely with a club; you’re OK if East has SQxx.



jim2May 23rd, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Iain –

I like your line!

Also, if West has 1S and 4H and gives the ruff/sluff H exit, when East over-ruffs the Board declarer can over-ruff East avoiding a trump loser. Thus, 6S + 3H + 1D = 10 tricks. In fact, declarer can now lead to the remaining Board S honor (drawing the last trump) and try the diamond finesse for an over-trick.

Iain ClimieMay 23rd, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Hi Jim2,

Nicely spotted and better than my line. All it needs now is for East to have the CQ after all and that messes up everything.



Bobby WolffMay 23rd, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Hi Iain, Yasser and Jim2,

Yes. all of you are right, each coming up with a better line, although in most cases, slightly different, and even more importantly, each succeeding, where the column declarer failed. Also, at least according to the column, West played the queen of clubs at trick two, eliminating the possibility of East holding that card.

Not unlike, the Murder on the Orient Express, but rather the opposite, where all the suspects were guilty (of contributing to the murder), since here, all of you are right and I, alone, was irresponsible.

Thanks to all three of you for your contribution.

Iain ClimieMay 23rd, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Note to myself – read what the column actually says before opening my (electronic) mouth and putting my foot in it!

I got some further feedback on Saturday’s hand (see yesterday’s post). Someone went off in 5H! They got a diamond lead, cashed the 2 D winners, played HA (dropping HQ) then CAKx. West won and returned a trump, taken by North, then S to K lost to the Ace and a spade back was won by the 10. The HJ was cashed and SQ but dummy was on lead at T12 with the 13th card in each black suit and west had the H9 and a diamond sitting over declarer’s 10x. Oh dear!

All the best,