Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, April 27th, 2015

The remedy is worse than the disease.

Francs Bacon

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


As declarer there are worse things that could happen to suffering a ruff. Consider today’s deal, which came up in a Swiss Teams match, both declarers reached the contract of four spades. One declarer won the diamond lead and led a low club from hand to West’s nine and dummy’s king. East worked out to hold off, and declarer was now worried enough by the threat of a club ruff to draw all the trump.

Then he led a club to the 10, but East held off again, and now he was left with a club and three red suit losers, since there was no entry to the board.

In the other room the lead was the same. The diamond king went to the ace, and now came a club to the king, ducked again. Next came the spade ace, and a spade to the jack.

But the second declarer judged correctly when he reverted to clubs. West could receive a club ruff, and cash his long diamond, but declarer could win the heart ace and cross to dummy with the spade queen to take dummy’s two club winners, on which he could discard both his heart losers.

This deal reinforces the importance of giving count as a defender when you think your partner needs to know how many cards you have in a suit. Be aware that sometimes count helps declarer more than your partner; deciding which situation you are in is not that easy a task.

Although there are unlikely scenarios in which a top diamond could be right, if declarer is threatening to build the hearts or spades for a discard, I suspect a diamond will cost more often than it would gain. Put me down for a mundane small heart lead – and not the heart seven or nine under any circumstances.


♠ Q 10 3 2
 9 7 4
 K Q 10 3
♣ 8 5
South West North East
    3 5 ♣
All 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


jim2May 11th, 2015 at 12:05 pm

On BWTA, did that come from actual play?

I learned to play bridge in the late 1950s, and I do not think I have ever seen that bidding sequence.

Bobby WolffMay 11th, 2015 at 12:58 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, that is an unusual sequence with East probably holding something like:
s, K, h, void, d. AJ9x, c. KQJ10xxxx and attempted to show partner about a 91/2-10 trick hand with clubs the extremely likely best trump suit.

Since a mere 4 club effort (probably 2nd choice) leaves room for competitive 4 level bidding around the table with possibly a slow penalty double by partner of LHO’s hypothetical raise to 4 hearts not an attractive situation to encounter.

And BTW, until an opponent can take East to a committee for failure to take a relatively fast double out to 5 clubs (if he so chooses), our judicial system will continue to be severely flawed and subject to undue influence by our very best players under the guise of hero worship or worse, professional connections.

Add that to noting that many good to better than good, lurking partnerships often know their partner’s tendencies and, of course, in the heat of battle, fall to temptation and take advantage.

I know that you didn’t comment with that in mind, but consider it a thought and worth pondering, something our laws contingent (not like yesteryear, much too scarce) is not forward nor sophisticated enough, thinking about.

No, the BWTA, as well as I can remember, did not originate in actual play.

Iain ClimieMay 11th, 2015 at 5:55 pm

Hi Bobby,

Shouldn’t east be less trusting here. If declarer is letting him give partner a ruff, something odd is happening and he should refrain. I’m not so sure about not signalling as west, though, as then east will surely take the CA on the second round and try a heart through.



Bobby WolffMay 11th, 2015 at 11:05 pm

Hi Iain,

Your strategy is impeccable, however there is little the defense can do about it, once the declarer does not draw that precious third trump except take the ruff and save an overtrick.

No doubt, especially in a good bridge game, when one side or the other offers what could be a free trick to the opposition it is usually wise not to take the bait. Here, since there is nothing to gain, might as well salvage what one can. Of course the opponent’s cards are not transparent and possibly with a different layout it could be wise to tap the dummy (if declarer somehow has a 3rd diamond).