Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, February 28th, 2015

Thinking to me is the greatest fatigue in the world.

Sir John Vanbrugh

South North
Neither ♠ 10
 Q J 3
 J 10 9 4 2
♣ K 7 5 2
West East
♠ J 7 4 2
 5 2
 K Q 8 7
♣ Q 9 6
♠ A 8 5 3
 9 7
 6 3
♣ J 10 8 4 3
♠ K Q 9 6
 A K 10 8 6 4
 A 5
♣ A
South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
6 All pass    


When ducking an ace it is generally a good idea to have planned the play in advance to make the play effective. Consider this deal, from a rubber bridge game in the United Kingdom.

When West leads the diamond king, declarer wins, cashes the club ace and crosses to dummy with a trump to discard a diamond on the club king. Are you still up with the hand? Declarer now leads the spade 10 from dummy; what should you play after winning the ace?

That is the question most players would ask themselves, and a trump seems obvious enough – but that is too late. Declarer can simply ruff his remaining spade loser in dummy, and has the rest.

Maurice Weissberger was East and he found a much better defense when he ducked his spade ace rather than taking it. As you will see from the full deal, below, when Maurice played low on the spade 10, declarer made the natural play of running it to West’s jack. Back came a second trump and declarer won in dummy, ruffed a diamond to hand, and now took a ruffing finesse against the spade ace to go one down.

Declarer could have made the hand had he hopped up with the spade king initially, but his play catered for every lie of the cards – except the actual one.

It is tempting to advance with a call of one no-trump, but this hand seems generally too weak for that call. Yes, spades may not be our side's best spot, but the risks associated with bidding and getting the auction too high are surely more significant. If the opponents decide to double one spade for penalty, you may change your mind as to where to play.


♠ 10
 Q J 3
 J 10 9 4 2
♣ K 7 5 2
South West North East
1♣ 1♠ 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 2015. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Joe1March 14th, 2015 at 6:37 pm

Why can’t south, after winning AD, draw 2 rounds trumps, unblock AC, then lead 5d, eventually throwing his spades on dummy’s winners?

Bobby WolffMarch 14th, 2015 at 7:48 pm

Hi Joe1,

Only because when West is now in with the queen of diamonds, the defense will (should) now cash the ace of spades.

Reminds me of the brash prize fighter who tells all listening to him, how he is gonna hit his opponent with a left jab and then a right cross and finally finish him off with a smash to his mouth.

The small problem is that he didn’t allow for what his worthy adversary was going to do, in the interim and for retaliation, to him.

However, your answer, while this time flawed, will, no doubt, be right on target next time and flush in the face. Never ever give up and soon you will be a champion.