Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 1st, 2013

O but we dreamed to mend
Whatever mischief seemed
To afflict mankind …..

W.B. Yeats

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


With a strong trump suit, all the ace-kings, plus good distribution, North-South should have no difficulty climbing to a small slam. Indeed, some might reach the grand slam — but six spades is challenging enough today.

South wins the opening lead, and plays a spade to dummy. After discovering the bad break in trumps, South needs to maneuver to take six tricks in the side suits, three spade tricks in dummy, and three spade tricks in his own hand. Declarer should cash all of his side winners before starting his crossruff to prevent East from ruffing in prematurely. (Delaying cashing the clubs would not be fatal here, but could easily be on a different day.) Declarer must also arrange to play from dummy after cashing all his six plain winners to be able to lead through East as often as possible.

East has a choice of defenses when declarer leads a red card from dummy at the eighth trick: If East discards a club, South ruffs low, ruffs a club in dummy, and leads a heart. He then discards if East ruffs high or scores his spade eight at once.

If East ruffs low, South overruffs with the eight and continues the crossruff. East cannot prevent him from singling in his last small trump at trick 12.

East’s best defense is to ruff high, but South can counter by discarding a club and will then crossruff and score all his small trumps one way or another.

This deal brings two contradictory principles into play. The first is that with a one-bid hand, you should normally overcall in a five-card major rather than doubling. The second is that you should not overcall in bad suits when you have a safer, more sensible alternative. Today, the second principle wins out. I'd rather double and risk losing the 5-3 heart fit than play hearts when I shouldn't.


♠ K Q J
 8 5 4 3 2
 A K 8 3
♣ 5
South West North East

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