Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, April 19th, 2018

To be totally understanding makes one very indulgent.

Madame de Stael

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


Today’s deal is a relatively simple one from a recent Australian national event. Both tables bid the hand to five clubs by South, and at each table, the lead was the heart jack. However, one declarer looked further into the hand than did his counterpart, and he was suitably rewarded.

Where the unsuccessful declarer was at the helm, he won the opening lead and made haste to pitch his spade loser on the top heart. Then he played on trumps and could not avoid losing three tricks in the minors when clubs failed to behave.

David Beauchamp was South in the other room, and he also received the lead of the heart jack. However, after taking his two heart winners to pitch the spade loser, he tried a diamond to the jack and king.

If anything but a trump came back, declarer’s plan was to ruff a diamond in dummy, then lead trumps from the top, with something like a 2 in 3 chance of playing clubs for one loser. West continued hearts, so declarer duly put that plan into effect. If, however, West had shifted to trumps, Beauchamp would have brought the whole club suit in with no loser, so he would have come to 11 tricks in a different fashion.

This deal exemplifies the adage that there is no suit you are better off leading yourself than forcing the opponents to play it for you. Let them do the heavy lifting, and you will be pleased by the results.

A simple raise to three hearts takes away a useful level of bidding from the opponents. Yes, you could bid three diamonds as a lead director with heart fit (whether a passed or unpassed hand), but your suit isn’t really good enough for that. Make the diamond queen the king, and you might get away with making that call.


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

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Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


A V Ramana RaoMay 3rd, 2018 at 12:10 pm

Hi Dear Mr. Wolff
Odd it may sound , but if east contributes diamond Q , it appears that south should lose the contract but he can counter by winning with A and returning J of diamonds. All doubledummy of course

jim2May 3rd, 2018 at 2:43 pm

A V Ramana Rao –

Actually, returning the JD is not double-dummy, I believe.

Declarer knows that East will always win a low diamond exit if that is possible. Declarer’s only chance is for West to win the next diamond. The only chances of that are if West began with Kx if a low diamond is led, but any holding with the K if the JD is led.

(Of course, if West began with the KD singleton, any play works as long as trump even remotely behave.)

BobbyMay 3rd, 2018 at 3:38 pm

Hi Everyone!

Just tuned in while suffering the ups and downs of attempting to play our great game at the local Sectional. I absolutely loved the discussion (sorry to have missed it temporarily) but intending to add my two cents later! The discussion has (at least to me) bonded Bridge with real life, especially with all of you “class people” with our intelligent game and very sophisticated thought process! Can’t wait till next week.

bobbywolffMay 5th, 2018 at 12:45 pm

Hi AVRR & Jim2,

Not much for me to add as you two covered the subject, except it seems everyone agrees rightfully that the column line chosen by Mr. David Beauchamp to be clear cut right.

bobbywolffMay 5th, 2018 at 8:10 pm

Hi again AVRR & Jim2,

Of course, while dealing with very low percentage holdings (singleton honor in diamonds with West, among others, as an example) the result will not charm declarer, but what play would? My advice FWIIW, do not waste time, unless that amuses oneself. Just understanding the concept, assuming there is one involved, is 99 and 44/100 percentage pure or is that the commercial, many, many years ago regarding Ivory soap floating, should be the goal of learning bridge truths, and if so, one will have his hands (please excuse) full enough to move forward.