Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, December 8th, 2018

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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


“Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” is terrible advice. Clearly, you should never put off until tomorrow something you can do today. (Ignore everything I said yesterday; I was obviously mistaken.)

When you play four hearts on the lead of the spade nine, you cover with the 10 and win East’s jack in hand to play a diamond. However, West will win his ace and return a spade. The best you can do is win dummy’s ace and try to cash two diamonds. However, East will ruff away your diamond winner, leaving you with a loser in each suit. A trump at trick two works no better against accurate defense.

So, what can declarer do to avoid this fate? If he delays focusing on obtaining his diamond discard and instead tries to cut the defenders’ communications in clubs, he can come home via an indirect route.

Let’s say declarer wins the spade lead in hand and ducks a club. As the cards lie, the best West can win his queen and ace and play a second spade. Declarer takes that in dummy and ruffs a club to hand to lead a diamond to dummy. When West ducks, declarer wins in dummy, ruffs a club and must now lead a heart. West can do no better than win the ace and return the suit. South ruffs the fourth club, exhausting both opponents of clubs, and finally leads a second diamond toward dummy. When West wins, he has only diamonds left to lead, so declarer’s spade loser goes away.

You could make a case for bidding two spades, since you have denied three-card support already (switch the majors, and that case becomes even better). However, since you are facing a card-showing double with an emphasis on take-out, I would simply bid three clubs, getting your minor-suit pattern across as efficiently as possible. There may be room to show spade support later.


♠ 9 3
 A 6
 A J 8 3 2
♣ K Q 5 2
South West North East
1 1 1 ♠ 2
Pass Pass Dbl. 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


A V Ramana RaoDecember 22nd, 2018 at 11:18 am

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Quite instructive but perhaps a small caveat. South should ruff clubs with honor cards . Had he ruffed clubs with small cards and leads K of hearts after ruffing third club, west can duck and south does not have tempo to ruff fourth club for eg., if he returns heart, west wins, cashes A of diamonds and exits in clubs. And if he leads diamond, west wins, cashes A of heart and exits in clubs whereas if he had taken care of ruffing the clubs high, he can lead low heart and west’s duck does not matter as he can win in dummy, ruff the fourth club and lead either red card for scoring the game

Bobby WolffDecember 22nd, 2018 at 3:50 pm


You are right as usual.

However, when speaking to you in bridge, it is assumed (or should be) that you would never ruff clubs with low hearts since, if for no other reason, to thank fickle Dame Fortune for dealing you high hearts (even high intermediates) and of course, the precious 108 dealt to dummy.

Perhaps that same lady has feelings for players like you, and in her own magical manner expresses her love to you for your rapt attention to detail.

Romance has always had its sacred place in life and perhaps it is not by coincidence that both males and females are ever present in decks of cards.

A V Ramana RaoDecember 22nd, 2018 at 4:58 pm

Thanks and yes Sir, There is similar pleasure in analyzing a bridge hand as reading Sherlock Holmes or solving a tough Sudoku or a cryptic crossword. Each is Romantic in its own way

A V Ramana RaoDecember 22nd, 2018 at 4:59 pm

Sorry, I should have added Chess too

Ken MooreDecember 22nd, 2018 at 8:31 pm

How long are you limping over two opinions? 1 Kings 18:21

Bobby WolffDecember 23rd, 2018 at 3:07 am

Wait a minute Ken! If you gave Kings a mention, you need to also give one to Queens.

Me Too!

jim2December 23rd, 2018 at 3:42 am

As requested:

Bobby WolffDecember 23rd, 2018 at 3:16 pm

Hi Jim2,

Yeah, I guess you are right and thanks for your research, but it feels pretty much like one might expect every one in that NY city borough, to be named Elizabeth.

Bobby WolffDecember 23rd, 2018 at 3:30 pm

Furthermore, my first wife was named Elizabeth, and three days ago we would have been married 60 years and both of us are still alive, her, definitely, me, probably.