Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, June 7th, 2013

She's loveliest of the festal throng
In delicate form and Grecian face —
A beautiful, incarnate song,
A marvel of harmonious grace….

Paul Hayne

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


Today's deal comes from one of the major tournaments earlier this year in Australia. It features the need for careful play in a delicate contract of five diamonds. You must establish winners in the black suits, but to do so, you need to come to hand in trumps, thus reducing your ability to make your trumps separately via a crossruff.

Against five diamonds the heart nine is led and ruffed. Declarer needs to play a diamond to hand to lead a spade to dummy. Suppose West wins the spade ace, as he surely will (East suggesting a doubleton spade), and plays his remaining heart — thereby marking him with only one trump, as he would have surely led a second trump if he had one.

You ruff the second heart and must throw a heart on dummy’s spade king, then ruff a spade to hand as East pitches a club. Now comes a club — let us say West wins the ace. If West now leads a fourth spade, East cannot discard a club, or declarer will draw the last trump and will have two club winners. If he discards anything else, declarer will cash his club winner and will crossruff.

So West does best to duck the first club, and dummy’s king wins. Now dummy’s last spade is led, and, when East does not ruff, declarer throws his club jack. West no longer has an entry to East for the second trump play, so declarer makes the last five tricks on a crossruff.

Minimum as you are in high-card points, you cannot do less than bid four hearts to emphasize heart shortage with a club raise. Admittedly, some of the time your partner might be able to infer this from his own heart length, but you owe it to him to describe your hand at one go and let him proceed from here.


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

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 ClimieJune 20th, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Hi Bobby,

Declarer did well, although west should surely lead a trump anyway. Would you have bid 5D as South, though, given the warning sign of the heart holding?



Yasser HaiderJune 20th, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Hi Bobby
I would have passed 3 hearts doubled with barely a second thought. After all if we are making 5 diamonds I think they will be going off some in 4 hearts. I am expecting partner to make a couple of spade tricks given my shortage and opponents presumed length. The sight of dummy however would have been disconcerting!

bobby wolffJune 21st, 2013 at 4:21 am

Hi Iain & Yasser,

Sometimes, when those about you, are discussing what to do after partner has doubled 3 hearts for TO, the middle road is what I choose.

Sure pass can produce a significant number as would 5 diamonds here if it is made, but I’ll choose to be conservative and only bid 4 diamonds. Partner’s great support and, of course, his void in hearts, might give me a raise, but whatever happens is more due to Dame Fortune and how she has elected to distribute the cards.

For excitement purposes both pass and 5 diamonds get the job done, but fate and partner’s specific hand will be what determines.

I’ll drink a toast to the victor, but often the middle road bid gets the job done.

Is high-level bridge a great game, or what?