Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, May 9th, 2015

To elope is cowardly; it is running away from danger; and danger has become so rare in modern life.

Oscar Wilde

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


Both players pushed just a little to reach four spades here, against which West led the diamond queen. Before you read on, it is worthwhile to pause for a moment and consider how you would play the game here.

The critical move comes early here. As is often the case when holding a singleton opposite an ace in a suit contract, the correct technique is to ruff a diamond at trick two. Then comes the spade ace-king, revealing that you have a trump loser. Life would be very easy if West began with specifically a 3=4=4=2 shape: a crossruff would succeed and West has to follow suit throughout. But if, as is more likely, West has only two or three hearts, then declarer needs West to have started with at least five diamonds to be able to succeed against best defense.

At trick four South cashes the heart ace-king, then leads a third heart. West cannot profit by ruffing a loser (since declarer would simply discard a club). Equally, West cannot usefully pitch a club, so West lets go of a diamond. Declarer ruffs in dummy, ruffs a diamond to hand, and leads the heart seven. Again, West cannot ruff in with the spade queen, nor can he throw a diamond, or he sets up a winner in dummy, so he must discard a club. A diamond ruff to hand is now declarer’s 10th trick.

This maneuver, where West can neither discard a winner nor prevent a crossruff, is sometimes called an elopement.

Your partner’s three heart call is a probe for no-trump. While you cannot bid no-trump yourself, you have a choice as to whether to bid four or five diamonds. The meaning of a jump to five diamonds depends a little on partnership style. I prefer not to play it simply as weak, more about a minimum with all my values in our bid suits. This hand qualifies for a five diamond bid either way.


♠ J 10 6 4
 5 3
 A 6 4 2
♣ Q 8 4
South West North East
    1 Pass
1 ♠ Pass 3 ♣ Pass
3 Pass 3 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 23rd, 2015 at 1:03 pm

Would a straight crossruff work if declarer never touched trump?

bobby wolffMay 23rd, 2015 at 4:38 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yes, as would the AK of clubs being in the opening leaders hand or the same ace king of clubs being doubleton in the East hand, all, of course, guessed right.

However about the 50-50 line of either the trumps being 2-2 or the singleton queen somewhere would be the most likely winning holding for the make and to chance either a heart or diamond overruff with a vulnerable queen or even the 8 of trump with West and very short diamonds, makes the attempted immediate drawing of fangs the standout choice at least, for unafflicted declarers.

OTOH, even the knowledge of your incurable TOCM tm doesn’t help since included is connected to your decision making bridge mind, which will influence you to automatically decide against doing what will work, connecting both your malady and the card layout in what always turns out to be the by far most painful manner possible, and for example, seeing one’s mother-in-law having a fatal accident in your brand new car then would somehow become 100% horrible instead of only 50%, since the car would also be totaled.

Your bridge life continues to resemble always being in court, being like Jean Valjean and having the hanging judge constantly rendering your maximum sentence for stealing that loaf of bread.