Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, December 29th, 2016

The Golden Rule is that there are no golden rules.

George Bernard Shaw

W North
N-S ♠ J 9 8 2
 8 5
 A K J 5
♣ A Q 8
West East
♠ A 6 4 3
 A K J 10 9
 7 6
♣ 7 4
♠ 7
 Q 7 3 2
 10 8 3 2
♣ 10 9 3 2
♠ K Q 10 5
 6 4
 Q 9 4
♣ K J 6 5
South West North East
  1 Dbl. 3
4 ♠ All pass    


When a defender offers you an early ruff and discard, your first reaction should be to expect a defensive error or an awkward trump break. Here after West had opened the bidding with one heart, East was able to make a pre-emptive raise to three hearts. With a high-card limit raise he would have bid a conventional two no-trump.

Undaunted, South blasted his way to four spades, and West began the defense with ace, king and a third heart. He knew that East held four hearts, and little, if anything, in the way of high cards, so establishing trump control looked the best way to set the game.

The ruff and discard alerted declarer to the probable bad trump break. If West had acefourth of spades, South could see the risk of being forced. Since he needed a ‘substitute’ trump suit to counter this threat he discarded dummy’s low club and ruffed the third heart in hand.

The king and queen of trumps followed, West correctly withholding the ace, and the expected 4-1 break was revealed. But next came the ace and queen of clubs, followed by two rounds of diamonds, ending in hand.

Once West had followed twice in each minor, South could run the rest of his clubs, and West was helpless. If he ruffed in, he would be overruffed in dummy; so he pitched a heart, and dummy discarded a diamond. When West discarded again on the club jack, North’s last diamond went away, and dummy scored a trump trick at the end for the 10th winner.

In this position there is no need to insist on playing no-trump. Facing a singleton spade, you might struggle in three no-trump while being able to make game or slam in a different strain. Start by bidding two diamonds, which is natural and forcing though typically a five-carder. No-trump can always come later.


♠ J 9 8 2
 8 5
 A K J 5
♣ A Q 8
South West North East
    1 1 ♠

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