Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, August 25th, 2018

There’s nae luck about the house
There’s nae luck ava,
There’s nae luck about the house
When our good man’s awa.

Scottish folk song

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


All of this week’s deals come from the 2017 World Championships from Lyon, France.

Steve Weinstein declared three no-trump here against the Dutch and found an intriguing line. You might try to match him by looking only at the North-South cards.

When West somewhat surprisingly has a heart to lead against three no-trump, you take the third heart as West pitches two clubs. Plan the play.

Weinstein led the club king from hand, ducked by West. Now declarer inferred that West was 1-6 in hearts and clubs, and the carding suggested West ought to be 4=1=2=6. If so, it would be futile to play diamonds from the top, as East would win the fourth and cash out. Similarly, if declarer played a second club, West would win and play back a club, breaking up any pressure in the ending.

But what if West had the doubleton diamond jack? He would win his jack and return a spade, but you play a second club and set up your ninth winner. There are two points to note about this line: First, you must play a top club before ducking a diamond, or West can win and play a spade, killing your communications. The second is that West needed to duck the first club, or he would subsequently have been squeezed in the black suits.

Weinstein went for broke and made the brave play of a low diamond from hand. The line failed when East could win his diamond jack and run the hearts, but it was still a highly imaginative try, I thought.

When the opponents open one club, you can often exploit the fact that they have not promised length in their suit by overcalling one no-trump with less in their suit than you normally would have for that action. While a one-diamond overcall is safer, this route gets you to major-suits when appropriate. “Too dangerous” is no excuse!


♠ 10 8 3
 Q 8 3
 A K Q 7 4
♣ K Q
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♣

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 2018. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


bobbywolffSeptember 8th, 2018 at 11:33 am

Hi everyone,

If for no other reason, one can see, from this effort by Steve, just how much confidence he
showed in reading the entire distribution (by West’s discarding).

When an aspiring player (usually with an ample supply of innate numeric talent) learns enough to be able to compete with the best, his discarding will almost always follow a consistent pattern, since not to do so, usually amounts to defensive bridge suicide.

However those mind battles between worthy adversaries are just the icing on the bridge cake of competition and rank second to only winning the number one prize in something big.

Iain ClimieSeptember 8th, 2018 at 11:42 am

HI Bobby,

At least when it went wrong, it was only losing 50s! Even though the DJ is probably with East if declarer’s card reading is right, 1/3 of the time for +400 is probably still worth the risk than settling for 1-off, although TOCM would give East DJxx.

Can I ask your advice on a hand from last night? At adverse, RHO opens 2H (5-4 plus in Hearts and a minor, weak hand) and you bid 3S (11-15 in principle) with AKQJ9x xx 10x A9x. LHO bids 4H, 4S from partner, P P 5H on your left, Pass, Pass and I doubled. What do you lead, please?



Iain ClimieSeptember 8th, 2018 at 11:43 am

Oh yes, it is IMPs.

bobbywolffSeptember 8th, 2018 at 12:46 pm

Hi Iain,

OK, I’ll bite, although, at least at bridge I’ve lived a very honest life, but I’ll deviate, possibly 50% for the notoriety and 50% for what may be a necessary excuse.

The Jack of spades, since partner will do a double take (of course, not having anything of value, but realizing that you are interested in a suit preference signal, since surely one opponent or the other has a singleton (I hope not a void) spade. I may well need guidance between a shift to one or the other minor at trick two.

To lead anything but a top spade has no real appeal, but of course may allow a make, especially if an opponent has fewer than 1 spade. Our double is questionable, but perhaps because of the vulnerability (red vs. white) partner’s pass may be considered forcing. Your 3 spade bid is borderline aggressive, but then you know that better than I and, in no way, am I necessarily against it.

So, back to bed for a few hours, no doubt dreaming of partner now directing me to switch to the “killing” minor (them not us).

BTW, although hands could no doubt be constructed for a trump lead to be right (and enabling the only way to score up a set) but is, in spite of that possibility definitely not my choice.

Iain ClimieSeptember 8th, 2018 at 1:34 pm

Hi Bobby,

You’ve guessed it, I managed to talk myself out of the obvious spade lead in favour of a trump and found the following hands awaiting me:

Dummy: xx A9xxx AK9xx x
Declarer xx KQJ10x Qx 108xx

Ouch! Live and learn, though.



bobbywolffSeptember 8th, 2018 at 2:31 pm

Hi Iain,

Talked about hands come and go.

Sometimes lessons are learned, but most of the time lady luck doles out the results. Add that to the oft message which is usually traced to the ego and thus the lasting impression which accompanies why the problem was given, (obviously not so in your presentation).

You, however, set a different standard which is the very opposite from the man in the street who seems to be only partially interested in discussing bridge, but rather vitally interested in promoting his image as something special.

IOW, the opening lead does have some interesting features, but the elephant in the room is your overwhelming modesty in the

Given a choice, I would always prefer to be thought of as having the quality you possess, rather than be able to guess correctly the next five opening lead problems.

However if the total was raised to six, I reserve the right to change my mind.

ShaySeptember 12th, 2018 at 12:44 pm

On perhaps the more complex end, users can type in complicated
math equations or even ask Bing to display a graph plotting an equation and
get results.