Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 9th, 2012

Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there aren’t no Ten Commandments, and a man can raise a thirst.

Rudyard Kipling

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


After South's strong no-trump, West came in with two hearts and North showed four spades and no heart stop by cue-bidding three hearts. (Had he held a heart stopper and four spades, a convention called Lebensohl would have let him bid two no-trump as a puppet to three clubs, then cue-bid three hearts.)

The final contract of three no-trump was predictable enough, and West equally predictably led a top heart.

Before you play to the first trick, it is always a good idea to count your winners and decide where you need to set up tricks and who is the danger hand. A cursory count of potential winners should come to eight. If clubs split, you have nine tricks, so you need to allow for the likelihood that they will not break.

The secret here is that the hearts are useless to you, and the diamond king is worth nothing if the ace is onside. If that is so, West will have heart winners galore, ready to cash. So you must hope the diamond ace is offside!

Win the heart lead for fear of the diamond shift, unblock your spade honors, then cross to a top club and cash the spade jack. Now take your club winners, ending in dummy. If the fourth club is not a winner, exit with the club loser and wait for East to lead a diamond. With any luck, the diamond ace will be offside, and East will be endplayed to lead around to dummy’s diamond king.

Your best choice for setting up tricks is a heart lead, but at the same time this lead is likely to give up a trick unnecessarily. I'd prefer to lead the more passive club, hoping that if dummy does not have a long running club suit, we can defeat the contract by giving nothing away. The diamond jack is also a good choice if looking for a swing action.


♠ K Q
 Q 10 6 4 2
 A J 7
♣ 9 5 3
South West North East
Pass Pass
1 Dbl. Pass 1 NT
Pass 3 NT All 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 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Howard Bigot-JohnsonJanuary 23rd, 2012 at 11:06 pm

HBJ : This is one of those hands where on seeing East show out you can’t afford to duck for fear of a diamond switch. I’m with you on this one. Take the Ace, unblock spades, and rejoice when East pops up with 4 clubs and the diamond Ace.
Prayer mats are a compulsory item when playing bridge at the Slaughter House…..they sometmes work.

Bobby WolffJanuary 24th, 2012 at 3:47 am


Yes, when one gets down to his last chance, might as well take it, rather than concede defeat.