Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, October 27th, 2014

The people have little intelligence, the great no heart. If I had to choose, I should have no hesitation: I would be of the people.

Jean de la Bruyere

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


Today's deal has nothing too subtle in it. All you need to do is to concentrate on your opponent's carding.

When West leads the club three against your contract of three no-trump, you win East’s nine with your queen. You play a heart to dummy’s queen and East’s ace, and East continues with the club jack. Plan the play.

East has kindly told you the exact layout of the club suit. If you think about it, you know West is likely to have four clubs, and East’s first two plays in the suit mean he must have the J-10-9, mustn’t he?

You should win the club to leave the suit blocked, and play a second heart. West will win and can play a low club to East’s 10. But since there is no longer any communication for the two defensive hands, you can later take a spade finesse into the safe, East, hand for your ninth trick. If you made the mistake of ducking the club jack, you will go down when East continues the suit.

Of course, one deal doesn’t prove anything, but there is certainly a case that one might make for steering clear of leading from a four-card suit headed by a single honor. Both diamonds and clubs are unattractive combinations to lead from — not that anything else is that much better, though I might well opt for the doubleton spade as more passive.

Before you lead, you should establish if dummy has promised four spades, or if this was the only way he could produce an invitational raise in no-trump (and yes, your opponents should tell you without being asked). Assuming dummy has not promised spades, I would lead one, but if dummy has shown spades, I would lead a club.


♠ Q 9 4 2
 10 7 4
 K 4
♣ J 8 5 2
South West North East
1 NT
Pass 2♣ Pass 2
Pass 2 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 2014. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Patrick CheuNovember 10th, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Hi Bobby,maybe East should play a nefarious 10C on trick one,when in with AH,the JC,as if from J107,would declarer now adopt a line of play based on who East might be?How would you play? Regards~Patrick.

Iain ClimieNovember 10th, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Hi Patrick, Bobby,

Given the suggested false card, declarer is still OK if either the spade finesse is right or the diamonds drop. Clearly South must take T1 and play a heart. East wins and returns the CJ (say) but South can duck, take the next club and now plays another heart. As the cars lie he is probably out of luck, but he still has the option of either the spade finesse or the diamond break, or even a possible squeeze.

On a single dummy basis, should South cash 2 diamonds early?



bobby wolffNovember 11th, 2014 at 12:52 am

Hi Patrick,

Yes, no doubt, your suggested false card by East of the 10 of clubs and then lead the jack back will fool two players, both South, the declarer, and West, his own partner.

Since declarer, in the column hand, played well to then safely make his contract, obviously the false card could get good results.

However, if we endorse his false card, the next time it may prevent a successful ending for the defense (West’s being able to lead a low club, knowing partner had the 10).

Seemingly every hand is different, therefore from a teaching standpoint any specific advice I would give, is trying to analyze correctly and full speed ahead. However, that advice is somewhat hollow until each hand is broken down, which, to say the least, is a difficult and often tedious task.

Thanks for not being afraid to bring up thorny problems which, without further information, usually cannot be solved by random bridge thinking.

bobby wolffNovember 11th, 2014 at 12:56 am

Hi Iain,

Thanks for your contribution to Patrick’s clever ruse.

Perhaps the lesson to be gleaned is that it is better to fool someone (even one’s partner) than to fool no one at all.

Take a bow, Patrick. Your scenario has brought the answer man to his knees.

Patrick CheuNovember 11th, 2014 at 7:38 am

Hi Bobby and Iain,thanks for your comments.Best regards~Patrick. 🙂