Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Nothing leads the scientist so astray as a premature truth.

Jean Rostand

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


Today's deal is not just about understanding the percentage table at bridge, but is also about how to apply your knowledge — and equally when to ignore the mathematics and use your bridge instincts instead.

When you declare three no-trump, you receive the club queen lead. On winning the trick, you realize you have precisely one tempo in reserve before the opponents can set up the clubs, then run the suit. Should you go after diamonds, spades, or hearts?

If you know your percentages, you will be aware that the chance of setting up diamonds for one loser (by finding the suit 2-2) is fractionally better than that of bringing in the spades for four tricks by finding that suit 3-3.

Just for the record, both chances are slightly better than one in three. However, that is not the point. Declarer can go after spades without losing the lead, but the same is not true for diamonds. So declarer should win the opening lead and immediately test the spades. When they prove to be 3-3, he plays on hearts, coming to nine tricks without risk, via six tricks in the majors and three in the minors. If the spades are 4-2 (or worse), declarer can change tack. He can play on diamonds, hoping for a 2-2 division. If his luck changes, then he takes three tricks in spades and six winners in the minors, to reach his target by another route.

Of the three sensible options available to you (double, one diamond, and one no-trump) the first two are relatively safe, but do not show your full hand at one go, while the third choice does describe your hand at the risk of running into a penalty double. Since your LHO is a passed hand, I'll accept that risk as a fair trade-off.


♠ K Q 6
 Q J 5
 A 10 7 3 2
♣ K 3
South West North East
Pass Pass 1♣

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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact