Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, December 16th, 2016

Never apologize, never explain – it’s a sign of weakness.

Frank S. Nugent and Laurence Stallings

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


In today’s deal a penitent correspondent indicated what a neat line of play they had found – but only after going down at the table, then burning the midnight oil to discover their mistake.

Had North simply raised two spades to three (the value bid), South would of course have accepted. West led a top club against four spades and, unwilling to jeopardize his sure trump trick, continued with two more rounds of clubs, forcing dummy to ruff. An early trump or heart play would of course have been fatal. But now South cashed the spade queen – with East’s 10 suggesting there might be breakers ahead. That left declarer the decision of how to come to his hand to dispose of the outstanding trumps.

It seemed normal to take dummy’s diamond ace and king, then to re-enter hand with a diamond ruff. Nice try, but no cigar: West over-ruffed, and exited with a heart. With the lead locked in dummy, it was impossible to avoid promoting a second trump trick for West, which led to the contract’s defeat.

So: what was declarer’s remedy? South should simply have cashed both red ace-kings at once, first in diamonds, the shorter suit, then hearts, leaving himself with nothing but trumps in hand. Now, when he ruffs a diamond and is over-ruffed, he will be able to win whatever West leads next in his own hand, to complete drawing trump.

Even if West ruffs an early red-suit winner, declarer should still be able to cross to hand safely in the other red suit.

The conventional call of two no-trump after a major suit has been doubled (known as Jordan or Truscott depending on which side of the Atlantic you were brought up) shows a limit raise or better in spades, and is a good way to start to show your values and fit. Redouble shows strength but typically denies a fit, and many play two clubs here as non-forcing.


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

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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


jim2December 30th, 2016 at 12:37 pm

The QD with West would allow declarer to escape by trying to ruff a heart to hand (rather than a diamond).

That is, West ruffs, but a diamond return would allow declarer to reach the closed hand safely, either by letting it float around to the JD, or by winning the QD lead and coming to hand with the JD on the next round.

That would not have worked for me, of course ….

BobliptonDecember 30th, 2016 at 1:40 pm

Bobby has neglected to give the name to the play of cashing to side winners to avoid the endplay his correspondent suffered at the table. It is the Dentist’s Coup, so named because it involves extraction.


bobby wolffDecember 30th, 2016 at 3:18 pm

Hi Jim2,

Excellent detective work by you (via card reading) has caused a cavity by me for bypassing the diamond opportunity (West should, of course, lead a small diamond after overruffing the heart).

The above also includes a falsecarding opportunity by East to drop the 10 of spades (on the queen) while holding another one or even more while following suit to the queen.

From this learning experience a best and brightest younger player can just begin to put to use some of the legal deceptive tactics, which serve as the DNA of a great player to be. Extremely rare, but becoming more frequent, especially with natural numerical talent, with every possible school hour where bridge is taught.

Merely equate that with the shrewd and cunning often required in all forms of competition, certainly including business success, when one step ahead is sometimes all it takes.

Those who can, play. Those who cannot, teach. Those who have TOCM TM compensate and receive thanks.

Thank you!

bobby wolffDecember 30th, 2016 at 4:07 pm

Hi Bob,

Yes, no doubt the Dentist Coup is the apt name for the extraction of “out” cards from the defense in case an untoward overruff becomes available for the defense, enabling the then defender to find a crippling return, preventable, if declarer has looked far enough ahead to extract that possibility before it begins. “Flu” shots anyone?

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