Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 12th, 2017

She learned romance as she grew older – the natural sequence of an unnatural beginning.

Jane Austen

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

*game-forcing heart raise


There are few things more aggravating at the bridge table than to be dealt a sequence on lead, and to find that leading from it is the only way to let through a contract. I don’t know about you, but when this happens to me it always feels as if The Great Shuffler is holding me up as an example to make fun of.

That was no doubt what West felt at the end of today’s deal. After South (playing four-card majors) had shown a minimum opener with no shortage, North drove to slam. West saw no reason to look beyond the spade jack for his opening lead. He must have felt more than a little uncomfortable when dummy went down, but when declarer won in dummy he breathed again, feeling relatively comfortable that his partner had the queen.

Declarer was able to turn the screws on him at once, though, by drawing trump ending in hand and leading a low spade, ducking West’s seven, and letting East win his now bare spade queen.

Had that player had a spade left to lead, the suit would have broken 3-3 and there would have been a home for South’s diamond loser. As it was, East had to play a minor suit, and his only chance was to lead a club, hoping that declarer had started with a doubleton. But declarer could win cheaply and discard dummy’s diamond loser on the club winner in due course.

If East unblocks his spade queen at trick one, declarer builds a discard from the spade eight for his contract.

Even if this might not be your style, can I suggest that the odds favor doubling here? Not because you will beat it on any lead – of course that isn’t necessarily so. But if you play (as do many) that this asks your partner to lead from his shortest major, then you have a decent shot to attract a heart lead – after which it would be disappointing for declarer to be able to make nine tricks – wouldn’t it?


♠ 6 5 4
 A Q J 10 2
 10 5
♣ A 9 2
South West North East
  1 NT Pass 3 NT

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 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Judy Kay-WolffOctober 26th, 2017 at 2:54 pm

Sorry folks!

Someone in charge of the posting, has once again goofed up.

Obviously, the uncontested auction should have appeared as

1H Pass 2NT* Pass
4H Pass 6H All Pass

*Game forcing heart raise

Bill CubleyOctober 26th, 2017 at 2:57 pm

Happy 85th birthday! Accept that you had a party. We love you. I hope you enjoyed yourself.

bobbywolffOctober 26th, 2017 at 4:39 pm

Thank you Bill,

Yes, I did tolerate my party, no doubt greatly appreciated those who made it pleasurable, but also enjoyed many other friends, as well as, and of course, myself.

Chuck BurtonOctober 26th, 2017 at 5:29 pm

Today’s column relates to using dummy’s paucity of entries – the nine of clubs only – needed to take two finesses. It seems that declarer can give herself a small extra chance by ducking the opening lead. The defense can counter by an immediate trump shift, but if they don’t, the fact that the Ace is stiff will provide the extra entry.

bobbywolffOctober 26th, 2017 at 5:56 pm

Hi Chuck,

And welcome to AOB.

However, we may be getting two hands mixed up since with this one, it is imperative for declarer to win the first spade trick in dummy. Next he de-fangs the opponents by drawing their tump, winding in his hand, to lead a spade to dummy and, assuming West plays low (since he can sense, by the play to trick one, that partner possesses the queen. declarer now finesses the eight, knowing it will lose to the queen, but effectively putting East on lead with no winning defensive play available to keep from leading a minor suit, giving the declarer his contract.

Beautifully done by effective card reading since in the absence of West leading the Jack of spades originally from Jx the defense has been forced to give away the contract (through no fault of their own), but rather, by extremely capable declarer play from South.

Chuck, if in further doubt, I will be happy to answer any additional question you may have.

One thing for sure, if you stick with wanting to play bridge, you will proceed forward by bounds and leaps and enjoy it immensely.

Thanks for writing.

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