Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 7th, 2016

A trap is only a trap if you don’t know about it. If you know about it, it’s a challenge.

China Mieville

N North
None ♠ A 9 6 3
 Q 2
 K 8 6 5
♣ Q 5 4
West East
♠ J 10 8
 K 10
 J 7
♣ 10 9 8 7 6 2
♠ Q 7
 A J 8 7 4
 Q 10 9 4 2
♣ 3
♠ K 5 4 2
 9 6 5 3
 A 3
♣ A K J
South West North East
    Pass Pass
1 NT Pass 2 ♣ Pass
2 Pass 3 NT Pass
4 ♠ All pass    


The contract of four spades looks extremely straightforward, once you can see that trumps break. But sometimes appearances are slightly deceptive. The trap on today’s deal is one you would never fall into, isn’t it?

When dummy comes down, the quick red suit losers plus the requirement to play for ruffs strongly suggests you need spades to behave. That being said, ruffing two diamonds in dummy or two hearts in hand seems to generate enough tricks. The problem with entries seems to argue for ruffing diamonds in hand, in which case you can play for seven tricks from the minors and three from the trump suit. That is indeed so, but you do have to be just a little careful.

When the club 10 is led declarer must win with a high club in hand, leaving the club queen as an entry to dummy. Then declarer cashes two high spades and plays three rounds of diamonds ruffing in hand. Thanks to the unblock at trick one, he can now use the club entry to dummy to ruff the last diamond in hand.

If you block yourself in clubs, you have to start the crossruff without drawing two rounds of trump, or allow the opponents to play a third round of spades after you have played two. In either event, you will find yourself unable to make your game today. In the first case you will run into an overruff, in the second case you make one fewer trump trick than you need.

Your partner’s failure to overcall suggests no great holding in either diamonds or spades. Does that mean you should go passive with a trump or club lead? I suppose that is possible, but my instinct is to lead diamonds, hoping to get the suit going on defense, perhaps in order to try to establish additional trump tricks for your side.


♠ J 7 4
 A 9 6 3
 Q 6 2
♣ 8 6 5
South West North East
Pass 1 ♣ Pass 1
Pass 3 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 2016. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieNovember 21st, 2016 at 10:06 pm

Hi Bobby,

On LWTA is it possible to say a little more about the hands. Partner must have a fair few points as the oppos willhave around 23-4 max even if balanced, but is West balanced? The failure to open 1NT precludes (say) 15-16 points and 2-4-3-4 shape or similar. Perhaps 2-4-2-5 or 4-4-1-4 shapes are possible, though. Partner’s silence suggests either 4 or fewer diamonds or 5 poor ones (he’d bid with 6, I suspect) while East bidding 1H suggests either not 4D or 5H if he has 4D. In the latter case, partner’s silence with a void heart suggests club length and RHO with club shortage.

Does any of this make a trump lead look any better, stopping ruffs and not opening up suits, or is my imagination having a funny five minutes?



Bobby WolffNovember 21st, 2016 at 10:44 pm

Hi Iain,

Of course, West can be somewhat unbalanced, anywhere from 2-4-2-5 or 1-4-3-5 with spades and diamonds reversed to 3-4-3-3 totally square. However, in either case he has more than his share of hcps, perhaps 12-15 with unbalanced distribution but up to about 18 if almost symmetrical.

All of the above is likely, however, what to lead is, as almost always, the problem. Therefore you show me a player who says his opening leads are almost always on target and I’ll show you one who has either won more World Championships than anyone can count, an optimist, or perhaps only an exaggerator, euphemism for liar.

No doubt, your reasoning for leading a small trump instead of, for example, a diamond, is
certainly in the ball park and perhaps even clearly right, but all I can do is listen and wait to see the result. Reason being is that in the thousands of hands I have played I still have very little idea of a majority choice, only some old fashioned caveats (e. not usually lead, if known, into declarers second suit or from an ace, unless it is in trump) to guide me.

However, to underestimate the initial thrust by the defense (opening lead) is also a big factor for success, with the twist being, it is, but if I am anywhere near right, only, at best, an educated guess with the education being sometimes cut off, while in the first grade.

Consoladores clasicosNovember 26th, 2016 at 12:00 am

Hurrah! After all I got a web site from where I be capable of truly obtain useful information concerning
my study and knowledge.