Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 6th, 2015

You can go where you please, you can skid up the trees,
But you don’t get away from the guns!

Rudyard Kipling

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


Sometimes it is better to go quietly when you are outgunned. In this deal North knew his partner was short in diamonds and gambled a second double. His partner took him seriously and jumped to game with his meager two-count, and found himself in a parlous contract. Even though the opponents’ cards lay extremely well, finding the winning line in five clubs was not entirely obvious.

As West holds the doubleton club ace, the heart king, and spade queen, declarer is in with a shout after West’s normal diamond lead. (Yes a spade lead lets the defenders organize a spade ruff).

Declarer ruffs the second diamond and plays a club to the king, the ducks a club on the way back. West wins his bare club ace and shifts to the heart jack. Declarer finesses the queen, cashes the heart ace and ruffs a diamond, then draws the last trump, pitching the small heart from dummy. Now declarer finesses in spades, cashes the spade ace and ruffs a diamond back to hand with his last trump.

After 11 tricks (two spades, two hearts, three trumps and four diamonds) he has reduced to a two-card ending with the heart 10 and a spade in hand and the K-3 of spades in dummy. To protect against the spade menace West must pitch his master heart, hoping his partner can guard the suit, but South triumphantly cashes the heart 10 at trick 12.

In this sequence you have more than enough to bid two hearts; and you would definitely want to bid hearts rather than diamonds, since partner’s double is more about majors than unbid minors. Yes, if you were defending to clubs you would hope for a diamond not a heart lead — but there again, if your side can make game, it is far more likely to be in hearts than in diamonds.


♠ 9 7
 8 7 6 5
 A Q 7 4
♣ J 10 5
South West North East
Pass 1 ♣ Dbl. 2 ♣

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


HaoAugust 20th, 2015 at 12:17 pm

South need lots of entry for this to work. If west win 1st trump with A, attack diamond, south have to use the last diamond ruff to get back to draw last tump. West throw spade on last trump and wait for the heart setting trick.

Did I miss anything?

bryanAugust 20th, 2015 at 12:42 pm

After winning the 2nd club, why did West lead the J Heart?
Playing another diamond seems safe and may cause transport issues.

(Also, Why did west duck the first club? With Kx in Dummy and Ax in hand, when does it benefit West to duck?)

bobby wolffAugust 20th, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Hi Hao,

You did not miss a thing. By rising with the ace of clubs, in effect West disrupts the declarer’s timing to execute the contract making spade heart squeeze.

Kipling was right, being severely outgunned was fatal, but West had to earn it at the table.

Thanks for both your alertness and correction and, above all, welcome to our site.

bobby wolffAugust 20th, 2015 at 1:24 pm

Hi Bryan,

Yes, you too, have suggested a winning defense to declarer’s plan, by disrupting the possible spade heart squeeze with continual forces instead of helping declarer do his ground work with the heart switch.

This was a real hand, actually played and defended with the column defense resulting in a clever make for declarer. Of course a terrible contract caused by just too much unwarranted optimism from South.

A reason to duck the club might, on another day, find declarer with only QJxxx and partner then holding four to the 10 score another defensive club trick once you use your ace to kill an honor.

However, between you and Hao, the two of you have created a better defense to get the job done.

Congratulations for beating the dealer, with us serving that role.

jim2August 20th, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Not so fast! There is no reason for declarer to waste the hand entry of the second diamond ruff to lead to the KC.

I think the proposed West defense let’s Declarer execute a Vienna Coup and transform it into a 5-card ending:

Diamond ruff
Club to AC
Diamond ruff
Heart finesse
Diamond ruff
QC (drawing last rump)
With last trump to play:

—- AKJx
—- 4
—- –
—- –


—– 654
—– 10
—– –
—– 9C

bobby wolffAugust 20th, 2015 at 9:38 pm

Hi Jim2,

Oh, how difficult it is to continue to analyze hands, back and forth, forth and back.

Better to trust a great bridge player like you, rather than do the math (or whatever it should be called).

Furthermore you are now certainly entitled to the Bridge Hall-Of-Fame distinction of being the most accurate and therefore in general, the best bridge player in this universe and also probably the moon and Mars who has ever lived, while being afflicted with TOCM TM.

And the above is only the beginning of what your potential may eventually accomplish (in your category).

jim2August 20th, 2015 at 9:44 pm

I am not a great bridge player — not hardly. You are, not I. I am a decent hand analyst, no more.

bobby wolffAugust 20th, 2015 at 10:08 pm

Hi Jim2,

Your bridge analysis would even make an eagle look myopic.

Modesty is only decent, but greatness speaks for itself.

Lee McGovernAugust 24th, 2015 at 3:19 am

jim2 is an expert at pressing the double dummy simulator button?