Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 1st, 2015

When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.

Samuel Johnson

N North
None ♠ A 5 4
 K 7 4
♣ Q J 8 7 4 3
West East
♠ J 9 7
 9 4
 Q 6 5
♣ A K 6 5 2
♠ Q 10 8 3
 K J 10 6 5 2
♣ 10 9
♠ K 6 2
 A 8 7 3
 A J 9 8 3 2
♣ —
South West North East
    1 ♣ 1
2 Pass 3 Pass
3 Pass 3 ♠ Pass
6 All pass    


Today’s deal comes from the rubber bridge table in London, and was reported by Brian Jackson, a player who thought he had seen it all. He had led a top club against six diamonds, being more hurt than surprised to see declarer ruff it. South now cashed the heart ace and trumped a heart. He then ruffed another club and another heart (Jackson discarding a club). This was followed by the spade king and ace, then a club ruff and another heart ruff, Jackson discarding a spade.

In the four-card ending declarer had a losing spade in each hand, and three clubs in dummy, and A-J-9 of trumps in hand. When declarer played a club from the dummy, East (who had two hearts and a spade as well as his trump 10 left) ruffed in, hoping to promote a trump trick for West. However, South overruffed as West followed suit, then exited with a spade.

In the three-card ending West had to ruff and was endplayed in trumps. Contract made. But had East discarded a spade instead on the previous trick, he could have overruffed his partner on the spade exit. Now the defenders would have come to two tricks.

However, it was my reporter who apologized to his partner. For when declarer played the fourth heart from his hand in the five-card ending, West should have ruffed in front of the dummy. Now in the ending he has one fewer trump and an additional spade, so would be able to discard, rather than ruff in, at trick 11, and thus escape the endplay.

This auction is traditionally played as forcing – though whether you play change of suit forcing after a one-level overcall is down to partnership agreement. You cannot raise hearts, so the question is whether to rebid two no-trump or repeat the clubs. You have so few tricks I prefer a three-club rebid; but it is close.


♠ A 5 4
 K 7 4
♣ Q J 8 7 4 3
South West North East
2 ♣ Pass 2 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


Iain ClimieAugust 15th, 2015 at 8:41 pm

Hi Bobby,

Poor West – if he had been dealth D10xx so his partner had just the Queen, then a trump lead might have appealed much more. AS it is, I think it still scuppers the contract although it is almost impossible to find at the table.



bobby wolffAugust 15th, 2015 at 9:15 pm

Hi Iain,

Bingo!! As you and I both know that whenever our defensive hand (on lead) seems to indicate that declarer may have trouble establishing their long suit (as it is here in no trump, not spades, but in actuality clubs) trump leads often greatly appeal (to keep the contract from being made with many back and forth ruffs.

However, as you emphasize, holding the Qxx of trumps and then leading it, loses all of its allure, and in spite of its advantage I will, if you will excuse the expression, pass.

Which only goes to prove that sure as a defender, especially an opening leader, we envision what may be better to do, but the very best players, temper that sometime illusion, into a more conservative position of not going that far, and other very bright bridge oriented minds, MUST learn to back off and not even think about becoming brilliant.

That attribute, at least to me, is perhaps the most important one to learn, but tell it to a young player who doesn’t respect the role that fatal female, Dame Fortune, plays 100% of the time. Result then often becomes very sad for those who try to buck it.