Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Our knowledge is a receding mirage in an expanding desert of ignorance.

Will Durant

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


South has enough to try for game, but not to bid it on his own, when North raises hearts. His three club call focuses on needing help in that suit. When North shows diamond values, South bids the game. While it might be right for North to use the three diamond call as ‘last train’ — meaning a buck-passing device — the result would be the same.

Consider how declarer should play four hearts on the defense of three rounds of spades, as East pitches a club. He ruffs and … what next?

It looks natural to cross to the diamond ace and finesse in clubs. But when West wins and leads a fourth spade, forcing South to ruff, East gets to pitch two clubs on the third and fourth spades, and is now out of clubs. If South tries to cash the club ace, East will ruff. If South draws trumps, he will lose a second club trick. So from this point on the contract can no longer be made.

South’s interior clubs are a mirage; the hand would be easier to play if South had the ace and three small clubs in hand. The simplest way to ensure 10 tricks is to play ace and another club. Having given up a club, and ruff two clubs with dummy’s high trumps. For the record: South should cash his high diamonds before starting the cross-ruff. This prevents the opponents discarding their diamonds during the cross-ruff.

And finally, the defenders would have done best to shift to trumps at trick three to prevent the cross-ruff.

An easy one, I hope. Your partner’s two heart call suggests a limited hand in the range of 6-9 HCP, but game your way is still very much in the picture. Your spectacular intermediates mean you are well worth an invitational call of two no-trump, to let your partner decide where to go from here.


♠ 9 5
 A Q J 10 3
 K 6
♣ A Q 10 9
South West North East
1 Pass 1 ♠ Pass
2 ♣ Pass 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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact