Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, July 6th, 2018

As distrust, in some sense, is the mother of safety, so security is the gate of danger. A man had need to fear this most of all, that he fears not at all.

Thomas Brooks

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


Against four spades, West leads the diamond two to East’s four and your 10. When you cash the trump ace, both defenders follow with small cards.

With just 22 HCP between you, do not waste energy fretting about the missed excellent spade slam. This is not the time to worry about what might have been; focus your energy on coming to 10 tricks against any distribution.

It appears to be smooth sailing if the trumps divide 3-2 or East has the length — in fact, you will end up with 13 tricks. However, there are breakers ahead if West has four trumps, as shown in the diagram.

To guard against that, after cashing the trump ace, follow up with the queen. When the trump distribution is discovered, you change tack and advance the diamond queen. West’s best defense is to ruff this and play the ace and another club. (A heart would let you win and draw trumps.) You ruff the second club with the king and play the diamond ace, throwing your remaining club from hand. West can ruff in with his last trump, but that is the final trick for the defenders. You will ruff the likely club continuation and then cross to the heart ace to throw your heart losers on dummy’s master diamonds.

You make five trumps, a heart, three diamonds and a club ruff for a total of 10 tricks. Note West’s uninspired choice of opening leads; a heart lead is more logical, given his natural trump trick, and it would have worked better today.

Illogical as it might seem, this hand is closer to driving to three no-trump than it is to a pass of two spades. Your intermediates, especially the spade 10, suggest that you might make game on very few values altogether if you can set up spades. I would bid two no-trump, but would have sympathy for a jump to three no-trump.


♠ A Q 10 5 4
 10 8 3
 Q 10
♣ 7 3 2
South West North East
    1 NT 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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Bob LiptonJuly 20th, 2018 at 10:56 am

I recall playing hand during Speedball Knockouts. Like the declarer above, I got the diamond lead and decided to play for safety, so I led a small trump out of my hand and ducked. I then faced my hand, announced I was drawing trumps and claimed 13 tricks.


A V Ramana RaoJuly 20th, 2018 at 11:04 am

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Perhaps south can prevail even on a heart lead. He wins in dummy and ducks first round of spade. Whoever wins can cash one heart and one club and lead either heart or a club for dummy to ruff or lead a diamond. In either case, south retains a valuable tempo for drawing trumps for eg., if a heart/club is returned, dummy ruffs, cashes spade K and south comes to hand with diamond to draw trumps. And if a diamond is returned, south can draw trumps without nay problem and enjoy diamond suit

bobbywolffJuly 20th, 2018 at 2:17 pm

Hi Bob,

Pretty clever indeed, and clearly the right play once LHO followed with the deuce. However this West casually inserted the nine (or eight would do) so whether we took it or not, down we would go like a heavy stone in the ocean.

So against you, West’s non existent fear quickly became his fiercest enemy while the other West’s distrust at that gate of danger became his savior.

Pretty clever these would be bridge champions.

bobbywolffJuly 20th, 2018 at 2:42 pm


Yes, your superior line of play overcame the heart lead. Please remind me to avoid playing against you when indeed a complicated hand, especially when you are getting a bad trump break, occurs. My previous guess would have only allowed Jim2 (who knows he is going to get one) could duck to the occasion). Instead, his trump break would have been all five with West.

However, to you, not afflicted, but a mere mortal, very well done!

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