Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

Invention, strictly speaking, is little more than a new combination of those images which have been previously gathered and deposited in the memory; nothing can come from nothing.

Sir Joshua Reynolds

E North
Both ♠ A
 J 7 5 4 2
 K 6 2
♣ 10 9 5 3
West East
♠ Q J 9 4
 A 10 6
 Q 9 4 3
♣ 8 4
♠ K 10 7 5
 K Q 9 8 3
 A 10 7
♣ 7
♠ 8 6 3 2
 J 8 5
♣ A K Q J 6 2
South West North East
2 ♣ Dbl. 2 2 ♠
3 ♣ 3 5 ♣ All pass


One of my regular correspondents is Tim Bourke, winner with Justin Corfield of “The Art of Declarer Play”, bridge book of the year in 2014. Tim never ceases to impress me with his fertile imagination. Here West leads the spade queen against five clubs; plan the play.

While the diamond ace looks likely to be offside, a simple line would be to play on diamonds, hoping for the diamond queen to be with East; but you can do better. Declarer wins the spade lead in dummy, ruffs a heart, then takes the next six tricks by crossruffing the majors, ruffing the remaining hearts high in hand as West pitches a diamond on the last.

By this point, West, whose bidding has suggested close to invitational values, needs the diamond queen to justify his actions.

Accordingly, in the five-card ending declarer crosses to dummy in trumps and leads the last heart from dummy, throwing the diamond five as East wins his king. If West discards a diamond, East’s diamond ace takes trick 11 but the diamond king and club ace represent the last two tricks. If West ruffs his partner’s winner and leads a diamond, then playing low is obvious. This forces the ace, and declarer claims the rest.

If West had turned up with better hearts earlier, so that East appeared to have both top diamonds, then instead of ruffing out the hearts, declarer would need to switch tack by leading a diamond from dummy and playing to set up a diamond.

In auctions of this sort your partner’s bid of the opponent’s suit on the second round should be natural. I admit that the action is somewhat unexpected, but your partner could be 5-5 in spades and diamonds, with your RHO holding five or six clubs, and four hearts. While you do have fitting honors you don’t have quite enough to raise to three diamonds, so pass.


♠ A
 J 7 5 4 2
 K 6 2
♣ 10 9 5 3
South West North East
  1 1 ♠ Dbl.
Pass 1 NT 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


Jane AOctober 17th, 2015 at 3:49 pm

What about leading a club in the column hand? Seems like a logical lead to me to try and cut down on ruffs which declarer has to do to make this contract. I might consider passing three hearts if I was north. It is obvious three of the suits are breaking badly. South can bid four clubs then if he wishes and see if east/west decide to stay out of trouble or bid on and then get whacked.

Fun game, this bridge.

bobby wolffOctober 17th, 2015 at 9:34 pm

Hi Jane A,

First I want to welcome you back to our favorite game.

Even if the opponent’s attempt a dastardly deed, by leading a trump, declarer needs to time it well making sure he will be in dummy at the right time to lead his fifth heart from dummy and discard a diamond from hand, leaving West with his last trump at large but when East wins the 5th heart, declarer merely throws a losing diamond and then if West ruffs it he will be end played in diamonds, but if he doesn’t ruff, it will be East, not West to be end played, with West having one too many diamonds to discard.

Thanks for making us work hard for our dinner.

However, a trump lead will cause the most havoc, but still will not quite be effective enough.

bryanOctober 19th, 2015 at 5:15 pm

Since South is using Heart ruffs to get to hand to lead spades, what happens to the timing if the Ace of heart is led on the opening?

bryanOctober 19th, 2015 at 5:19 pm

by the way, I would not have done as well as south.
I would have tried for a 4-4 heart split or Ace of diamond onside, or a sleeping west who believes in 2nd hand low and allow me to endplay west after stripping everything.
Listed line is loads better than mine.