Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Greedy with the property of others, extravagant with his own.


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


You may sympathize with South's bidding on this deal, but perhaps you should be more critical of his play.

South had a difficult reopening problem over West’s three club preempt. A bid of three hearts would have been feeble, a jump to four hearts would have been unilateral, and three no-trumps might well have led to a contract at the wrong strain and level. In the event he chose to double but North’s (not unexpected) response of three spades did not help much, and South tried his luck with three no-trumps.

West guessed to lead the spade six and, East refused to cover dummy’s 10. South won in hand, cashed his other top spade and started on hearts. He hoped to find East with both top honors and only two clubs, but West intelligently ducked his king to let East win his ace and return a club. Now South was left with only seven tricks, and the rueful feeling that four hearts might have been easier to play.

In fact though, three no-trumps should have been steered home. South should overtake his second spade honor in dummy and discard the club ace on the third spade! So long as West holds the club king, the club queen will serve as an entry, and there will be four spade tricks, four diamonds, and a club to come. If the defenders refrain from playing clubs, there will be plenty of time for declarer to establish his ninth trick from the hearts.

Your partner's double followed by a cuebid shows real extras in high-cards. You have the perfect hand to jump to three spades, suggesting five spades and a little more in high cards than he might expect. Let him make the running from there. My second choice would be to bid four spades.


♠ A 10 9 8 7
 3 2
 9 8 6 2
♣ Q 3
South West North East
Pass 1 Dbl. Pass
1♠ Pass 2 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


Shantanu RastogiJanuary 7th, 2015 at 10:26 am

Hello Mr Wolff

Against a top notch declarer like you I would lead Clubs and wait for contract to be one down. Yes, leading clubs may give away the contract on some other layouts but a top notch declarer is anyway expected to find his way on most of the deals.

best regards

Shantanu Rastogi

Bobby WolffJanuary 7th, 2015 at 11:25 am

Hi Shantanu,

First, thanks for your respect. As time inexorably rolls by, one would like to be extravagant, but sometimes only is left greedy with and in his memories.

As Tonto, while playing bridge (and defending today’s hand), may have been heard while speaking to his friend, the Lone Ranger, “Bridge is the master. When we try and figure out what particular lead will ring the bell, indicating success, all avenues are open, but the one chosen should probably be a tried and true, 4th best from longest and strongest (or at least one of your 6 lower ones).”

Yes, Dame Fortune can be a fickle lady, but, not so strangely, she, like most of us, has a preference, if not an absolute craving, for tradition and the result of this experiment, as you so eloquently explained, tends to indicate exactly that.

Thanks for your stunning comment. And for the non club leaders, “Tennis anyone?”

Bobby WolffJanuary 7th, 2015 at 11:36 am

Hi again, Shantanu,

And before one of our wise guys pipes up, “What about the 2d highest heart for an opening lead? No, I do not want to switch to tennis!”.