Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

The dwarf sees farther than the giant, when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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


In every major tournament there is always at least one instance of David defeating Goliath. At the Olympiad in Beijing in 2008, the giant was Italy and they were beaten 16-14 by Albania, playing international bridge for the first time. This was one of Albania's triumphs.

The Italian South found himself in three no-trump, against which West led the unbid suit, hearts. Declarer won in hand with the queen and played a heart back to dummy’s nine. He now played a diamond. East went up with the ace and continued hearts. Declarer misjudged now when he ran the heart around to dummy’s king, and played a club to his 10. When this lost to West’s jack, South was doomed.

The Albanians bid to the delicate contract of four hearts. West led a top spade and switched to a club. Declarer won in dummy and played a diamond, and East won and continued clubs. Declarer won in dummy again and played a spade. The defenders won and played a third club. When no-one ruffed this, declarer had three clubs and crossruffed seven trump tricks to make his game.

Even a trump lead would not have hurt declarer. Suppose West leads a trump at trick one. Dummy wins, plays a diamond, and East plays another trump. Declarer wins in hand, ruffs a diamond, crosses to hand with the club queen, draws the last trump, and plays a top diamond. This establishes two more winners in the suit, allowing South to make five trumps, two diamonds and four clubs.

Your partner's double shows a maximum pass, and suggests a heart suit that is not good enough to bid, together with diamond tolerance. With four-card heart support, you should jump to three hearts, not so much because you think your side can make game but to take away bidding space from your opponents.


♠ 7
 A Q 8 5
 Q J 9 6 3
♣ Q 10 7
South West North East
Pass 1♣
1 1♠ Dbl. Pass

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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Shantanu RastogiApril 22nd, 2014 at 9:28 am

Dear Mr Wolff

I dont know if I’m missing something in analysis but according to me to make 7 cross ruff tricks declarer should ruff second spade from dummy and then cash third club and now begin cross ruff. The column says defenders win second spade and play third club but now declarer can make the contract by ruffing third spade low hence setting up dummy’s
spade suit and now removing trumps ending in dummy but not by cross ruff.

best regards

Shantanu Rastogi

bobby wolffApril 22nd, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Hi Shantanu,

You are right and there is an incorrect description since when declarer led a spade from dummy, the opening lead had already swallowed his losing spade, so that the cross ruff began, (with declarer also cashing his 3rd club trick along the way) therefore enabling the winning cross ruff line.

Sloppy reporting is unacceptable and again I apologize for such distractions which are happening far too often. Thanks for recognizing the gaffe, proving you are very thorough, in following the described play.

True when the AK of spades falls out, the 4 heart contract can be made another way, allowing David to defeat Goliath, but at that point the cross ruff line looked best, just in case the trumps didn’t break.

jim2April 22nd, 2014 at 7:33 pm

Suppose South does not take a wrong view at 3N and simply cashes eight round suit tricks. Declarer can pitch pointed suit cards w/o a care, but what would the defenders pitch? I suspect should declarer play a diamond from the Board at trick 9, that the contract would usually make.

bobby wolffApril 23rd, 2014 at 5:33 am

Hi Jim2,

Unless the defense puts declarer to a difficult guess in spades, I certainly agree with you that 3NT would likely make. Getting there is another story.

jim2April 23rd, 2014 at 11:34 am

—– 1S
2D – 3C

Maybe South decides that — with a singleton in pard’s first and only three in the second among a point count consisting mostly of queens and jacks — perhaps 3N is a better choice than reversing into a four-card suit.

bobby wolffApril 24th, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Hi Jim2,

Just chalk it up to an Albanian auction. In a World Team Olympiad there are always a few countries who are only there for the honor of rubbing shoulders with the well known bridge countries and their superior players.

It is much more a social occasion for them, rather than even a small hope of doing well, but unfortunately at this point in time it is where we are. With bridge coming (and flourishing) in European schools my guess (and hope) is that perhaps in 20 years the idea of teaching bridge in schools will gain momentum and even small out of the way countries will add bridge to its curriculum.

I will not be around to enjoy it (at least up close) but it will be a happy day somewhere for all bridge lovers who know what our game has to offer young minds and how it can teach youngsters to think logically with numeracy playing a large factor.

Till then we are left with Albania and too many others who look forward to our big events, but only are there for the early preliminaries.