Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, April 27th, 2018

A schoolboy’s tale, the wonder of an hour!

Lord Byron

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

*Asking for the spade queen


North’s first response here promises a good suit, so that once he raises spades, the route to slam should be easy enough. After West leads the club queen, you must plan the play.

You could rely on dropping the trump queen in two rounds, but that is only a trifle better than an even-money shot. A better chance is to play on hearts, hoping to set up a long card, while using dummy’s trumps for entries.

After winning the club queen with the ace, cash the heart ace and king, then ruff a heart with the trump king. Next continue with a low trump from hand! West does best to play low, and you win in dummy and continue by ruffing a second heart with the trump ace, because you like the spectacular.

A second low trump from hand sees West win the trump queen and probably exit with a club. After winning this trick with the club king, you draw West’s remaining trump by leading a third low spade to dummy. Since the heart seven has been established, you use it to dispose of your club loser. You make five trumps, three hearts and the ace-king of both minors.

While no line will bring you home if West has four trumps, this approach can succeed when East has four trumps — provided hearts are 3-3. In the latter case, East will have to use one of his trumps to ruff a heart winner; then you will be able to over-ruff and draw his last trump, ending in dummy to cash the remaining heart winner.

Your partner rates to be relatively short in both majors, so I can see some logic in raising to two clubs as opposed to rebidding one no-trump. Nonetheless, I think the one no-trump call suggests your values nicely, and lets partner rebid two clubs if appropriate. He surely won’t have six clubs, will he?


♠ J 10 9
 A K 7 4 2
 8 6
♣ 9 7 4
South West North East
  Pass 1 ♣ Dbl.
1 1 ♠ 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


Iain ClimieMay 11th, 2018 at 9:23 am

Hi Bobby,

Is it (very) slightly better to cash the HA, return to hand with a diamond, possibly cash the other top diamond and lead another heart towards the K just in case West has a singleton; he can ruff in but trumps will hopefully drop now and the second top heart gives you a club discard? I accept that TOCM will then give West a 2-1-4-6 hand so that, after ruffing the second heart lead, he can then play another club with East will ruff. Partner is then advised not to helpfully say “You’d have made it if you’d drawn trumps….” The ability to console partner and mentally pick them up when genuine bad luck bites declarer in the behind is a much under-rated part of dummy’s responsibilities.



A V Ramana RaoMay 11th, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Hi lain
But why should west ruff the heart. He can discard something. And if trumps are 2-2, you always make the contract with six trumps and two tricks each in other suits. And if trumps are 3-1 ( singleton not being Q) and hearts are 5-1 either way, south should resign himself to one down. The column line caters to hearts 4-2 and trumps 3-1 and als four trumps with east but in which case hearts should break

Iain ClimieMay 11th, 2018 at 1:11 pm


Don’t worry, it was only a tongue-in-cheek example of a worst case scenario where a bad player would have bashed down SAK and wondered how anyone could have gone off in the 2-1-4-6 West hand I suggested. If West does discard on the 2nd heart, now declarer need a minor miracle if trumps don’t drop. Assuming West has SQxx, we have to hope he is 3-1-7-2 with CQJ alone. Cash the top trumps, minor suit winners and throw him in for a ruff & discard. A tiny chance still beats none at all! Also, if West has any two trumps (or xxx) and 1 heart with the clubs 4-3 but you don’t lead up the HK but cash it after the HA, you lose one of your side suit winners.

I quite agree with the general drift of the column analysis though, I just wondered if there was a small extra chance here (and even if it outweighed the extra slight risk as well).

Good to hear from you and have a good weekend!


bobbywolffMay 11th, 2018 at 1:25 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, your line per se, is perhaps a better line (although only slightly) since it gives an opponent a chance to make a mistake as AVRR explained (ruff when he shoudn’t). And BTW when top players play against each other (and both are well adjusted) the one who does not ruff may wink or otherwise comment something like, “oh well, steal away”. However and for sure, that may only happen behind heaven’s gate where even going set may be borderline pleasurable (dreamer, I).

As to partner scolding declarer when he goes set, in spite of obviously (not so to dummy) playing the hand brilliantly, but failing perhaps because of TOCM TM, a declarer retort should remind his likely to be “former partner”, “Better to remain quiet and thought a fool, than open your mouth and remove all doubt”.

If only I had never played that role as dummy, I would indeed, have been a much better man, but sometimes in the cauldron of competition, emotions, rather than clear thought takes over and well you know the rest….. The answer might be a simple word, RESPECT, which the best partnerships around have already earned by and to each other, and thus stand as a sturdy beacon for all others to at least attempt, to emulate.

No doubt your consoling advice in the above case is nothing short of “golden”!

bobbywolffMay 11th, 2018 at 1:48 pm


Please keep your “eagle eye” both open and focused on our sight, While sometimes down putting, but practical, to short-cutting commenters, the devil in the details may often arrive, sometimes not necessarily expected, but almost always, worth mentioning.

It sometimes takes a bunch, here, lovingly called a family, to describe the perfection, known to us, as bridge.

bobbywolffMay 11th, 2018 at 1:53 pm

Hi again AVRR,

Yes, I know “sight” should be “site” and hopefully before your proven “eagle eye” has had a chance to go into action.

ClarksburgMay 11th, 2018 at 1:54 pm

About Dummy scolding Declarer.
Quoting from one of Frank Stewart’s columns:

“Some issues are issues of the Partnership…but not Dummy play.
Your Partner’s Dummy play is none of your concern.
If you’re unhappy with it, get a new Partner! “

A V Ramana RaoMay 11th, 2018 at 2:10 pm

Hi lain
Thanks and wish you too ” A very happy weekend”

A V Ramana RaoMay 11th, 2018 at 2:12 pm

Hi dear Mr Wolff
Love to be a part of the family