Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 22nd, 2015

I don’t want realism. I want magic!

Tennessee Williams

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


The play in four spades is not complicated here, but declarer needed to focus on the critical issue. When the deal took place at the table, in a team game, the deal was flat, with both declarers flubbing their lines.

In one room, after a diamond lead, South tried to cash two top diamonds and ruff a diamond low. East overruffed and returned a trump, leaving South with three red-suit losers.

In the other room South ruffed the third diamond high. East pitched the club king, and when declarer played the club ace, East ruffed in and played back a trump, and declarer was again left with no chance to make his game.

The key here is how to play a cross-ruff to eliminate as many chances as you can that the defenders might ruff in or overruff you. It is often vital to cash your side suits winners, in case a defender can discard and then be able to ruff away one of the winners.

So win the diamond ace and cash the club ace immediately, then take the second top diamond and ruff a diamond high. Ruff a club to hand, then trump your fourth diamond with the spade eight. East can overruff, but declarer takes three plain winners, six trumps in hand and one diamond ruff in dummy.

It may not be likely that one defender has a singleton club and only two diamonds, but if you can protect yourself against an unlikely event, why not do so rather than be dependent on the kindness of strangers?

With a minimum balanced hand with 5-4 pattern, introduce your second suit if you can do so without reversing (going past your first bid suit at the two-level). You cannot do so here; a two heart call would show real extras, and would be logical if your heart three were the ace. Today, your choice is to rebid two clubs or one no-trump. The latter is more accurate; try to avoid repeating a five-carder, if you can.


♠ Q 8
 J 8 4 3
 A 7
♣ A J 9 6 5
South West North East
1 ♣ Pass 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