Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, April 14th, 2018

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.


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


Today’s deal comes from the qualifying event of last year’s Gold Coast teams in Brisbane, Australia. It cropped up at the table where Matt Mullamphy and Ron Klinger took on Grant Cowen and Paul McGrath. On a quiet set of boards, where there were few opportunities for swing, this significant opportunity went begging.

At the table North had elected to pass two hearts, pessimistically downvaluing his weak trumps and poorly placed spades. It was a good decision in a sense — since in practice four hearts was likely to go down. But can you spot the line where South in the other room could have made his game, after a friendly club lead into the tenace?

When, as South, you lead a diamond at trick two, West must duck. You win dummy’s queen, then ruff a diamond, cross to the club ace and ruff a second diamond. When no ace appears, you know West surely started with 5=1=4=3 shape. So you cash the heart ace to confirm that your count on the hand is correct, then take the club king and ruff your club winner in dummy.

You have scored the first eight tricks, with the lead in dummy, having reduced yourself down to the K-10 of hearts while your RHO has Q-J-6. Dummy has two diamonds, and you and dummy each have three spades left.

At trick nine, you lead a diamond from dummy; East must ruff high to prevent you from scoring your heart 10. Instead of over-ruffing, you simply pitch a spade and will now score two more trump tricks by force.

The double by West typically asks East to try to lead his partner’s major and is based on a good suit. Do you want to risk playing three no-trump doubled under those circumstances? I’m a coward; I’d run to four diamonds and apologize if that is wrong.


♠ 5 4 3
 9 7 4
 K Q 10 7 6
♣ A 3
South West North East
    1 NT Pass
3 NT Dbl. Pass 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Lee HuberApril 28th, 2018 at 1:54 pm

When I saw it I planned to play it as a dummy reversal which works. A little strange for a 6-3 trump suit.

A.V.Ramana RaoApril 28th, 2018 at 3:39 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
It may sound crazy but it appears that the only lead to beat Four Hearts is a low spade from west. South can win and try a diamond but west hops up with A, cashes two spade tricks and leads a club and now east must come to a trump trick. ( The double finesse in trumps is working. He can finesse once in trumps with club A as entry on which east will cover dummy’s card but south lacks another entry and if he ruffs a club, east will refuse to cover nine when played and if dummy ruffs a club with nine and leads a spade, south is locked in hand as east will not cover)
As can be seen, on any other lead, south prevails as the line transposes to that described in the column. If west leads A of diamonds, south can resort to safety play in trumps for one loser.
Bridge like life is full of paradoxes.

Bobby WolffApril 28th, 2018 at 4:41 pm

Hi Lee,

The good news is that while today’s hand is not a dummy reversal, it does have some similar characteristics and allows the master trump hand to score up all of his trump (in spite of the bad break).

The slightly careless news is that the trump fit was only 5-3, not 6-3.

First, hello and then, thanks for writing and don’t be a stranger.

Bobby WolffApril 28th, 2018 at 5:00 pm


Almost correct, but no cigar.

With your opening line of play, the defense will score up three tricks fast, but South can save losing a trump trick by winning the diamond, tossing a club, leading a high heart and then going to dummy for another heart finesse, assuming East covers the first heart, still having an entry left to get to dummy and repeat the heart finesse (after ruffing a club as an entry. A 4th spade led by West will not prevent declarer, if timed right, to accomplish the same result.

Finally, thanks for using one of my favorite words, paradoxes and while life, indeed, and like you said, “is full of them”, do they in reality and in poker, beat a pair of aces.

A V Ramana RaoApril 28th, 2018 at 5:25 pm

What I meant was , after winning A of diamonds, west returns a club

Bobby WolffApril 28th, 2018 at 6:59 pm


Yes, you won the cigar. Declarer just had too many trumps and couldn’t get out of his own way.

Congrats for your eagle eye, also one for 4 card majors, not to mention paradoxes, but a defeat for my careless analysis.

Bobby WolffApril 28th, 2018 at 7:41 pm

Hi again AVRR,

How about winning the king of spades at trick one, then playing ace and king of clubs and ruff a club in dummy, a heart to the eight and then the good jack of clubs discarding a spade followed by the ace or hearts and then either the 10 of spades from hand or a diamond toward dummy. If East split his hearts earlier it would not do the defense any good.

Bingo! contract made.

A.V.Ramana RaoApril 29th, 2018 at 3:33 am

Yes Sir-I missed this line in my initial analysis. Perhaps a small refinement would be – when south is in with eight of hearts ( or with a honor if east covers) he can play a diamond straightaway without cashing second high heart. if west wins, he can cash a spade and now if he plays a spade, dummy will ruff and if east overruffs, it will cost a natural trump trick and if west leads diamonds, south prevails easily. And if west does not play diamond A, south will not have any problem.
It all goes to prove that Bridge is an extremely wonderful and fascinating game with many twists and can provide enough exercise to the little grey cells for those who enjoy mental exercises
Best Regards

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