Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, July 11th, 2011

Vulnerable: Both

Dealer: East


K 4

K Q 10 2

A K 9 7

10 8 2


9 3

A J 8 7 5

8 6

K 9 7 6


10 7 6 2

9 3

5 4 2

A Q 5 3


A Q J 8 5

6 4

Q J 10 3

J 4


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
3 Pass 3 Pass
3 Pass 4 All pass

Opening Lead: Club six

“Times go by turns, and chances change by course,

From foul to fair, from better hap to worse.”

— Robert Southwell

Today’s South considered himself unlucky to have gone down in four spades, but received little sympathy from his partner. Can you do better? Plan the play in four spades after the defenders play three rounds of clubs.

This looks like a very simple hand, but declarer must be careful. If he draws trumps straightaway, he will go down when spades break 4-2, for he will never make the heart trick he needs for his contract. When a defender wins the heart ace, he is likely to have a club to cash, since you will be out of trumps altogether. This was what happened to our unlucky declarer, who drew trumps first, then thought about the hand later.

Once you see the problem, the solution is simple. All declarer must do is play a heart at trick four, before touching any trump. If the defenders play a fourth round of clubs, he can take the ruff in the dummy.

This line is not absolutely foolproof. If the clubs split 5-3 and one hand is long in both black suits, that opponent may be able to win the heart ace and lead a fourth club for his partner to ruff, trying to promote a trump trick for his side. But this requires a combination of three relatively unlikely eventualities, and if the cards lie this way and the defenders get it right, good luck to them!


South holds:

K J 7 6 4
Q J 7 2
K 4
K 3


South West North East
Pass Pass
1 2 Pass 2 NT
All pass
ANSWER: It must surely be correct to lead a heart, not a spade, on this auction. With the live possibility that dummy may have a singleton heart honor (or that partner may have a blocking doubleton heart king or 10), the lead of a small heart rather than an honor looks like the best shot to get the suit going for the defenders.


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 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


John Howard GibsonJuly 26th, 2011 at 4:07 pm

HBJ : The beauty of bridge is the way a good player will spot or anticipate the danger ( ie. 4-2 spade break), recognise the consequences of ignoring that danger, and then of course coming up with a plan that negates it.

Yet again another great hand by which we are all reminded that to be a really good bridge player, one needs to develop a good nose. That ability to sniff out slams, sniff out danger, and sniff out those hidden opportunities which lead to success.

Bobby WolffJuly 27th, 2011 at 11:19 am


Heady and right-on general comments about the wonders of bridge and what is required to move up in rank.

You state “that ability to sniff out slams (sos), sniff out danger (sod), and sniff out those hidden opportunities (soo) which lead to success”, in this particular hand, “sod” is lurking wherein we need to develop our heart trick before we play all our trumps first so that we can use the small trump in dummy to guard against being clubbed to death.

Moral of story: Plan, like wise ants for the winter, during the summer at trick 4, by leading a heart, instead of a winter of discontent at trick 9 by not.

Again, many thanks for your sage continued contributions.