Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

I finally figured out that not every crisis can be managed. As much as we want to keep ourselves safe, we can't protect ourselves from everything. If we want to embrace life, we also have to embrace chaos.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

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


Declaring four hearts, South can count eight top tricks, and hopes that the other two will come from ruffing two spades in dummy. But if West has the diamond ace, South might score the diamond king and need only one ruff in dummy.

It looks like normal technique for declarer to duck the first club, then take the club jack with the ace and lead the diamond 10 to the jack, king and ace. East now has a choice of defenses. If he plays a club, then West will win the trick and exit with a top spade. Now if declarer wins and tries to ruff a spade in dummy without drawing any trump, East will be able to overruff dummy and the contract goes down a trick.

But it costs South nothing to play the heart ace and king before ruffing a spade. As the cards lie, this means that East has no trumps left to overruff dummy, so declarer ruffs a diamond back to hand before ruffing his last spade on the table. He makes two spades, two spade ruffs, five trumps and the club ace.

Declarer can (and probably should) play precisely one round of trumps at trick three before leading a diamond to the king. But it is also worth noting that if declarer erroneously draws two rounds of trumps before playing on diamonds, then West can win the third club and play a third trump, killing the second ruff in dummy.

Your decision as to how much to bid should be influenced by the vulnerability. Vulnerable, you could content yourself with a simple overcall, since it makes little sense to expose yourself to a big penalty by playing weak jump overcalls facing a passed partner. When nonvulnerable, you might pre-empt all the way to three diamonds to make the opponents' life that much harder.


♠ 7 5
 A Q 9 7 6 4
♣ 10 9 8 7
South West North East
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