Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 17th, 2019

Few men make themselves masters of the things they write or speak.

John Selden

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


In today’s deal, South’s jump to three spades is not forcing. North might pass with a really bad hand. If he does, South would be better off staying out of game. But as it happens, North has more than enough to bid on. Lacking any spade support, North might try for game at no-trump, in which case South would have no reason to overrule his decision. In this case, though, North is correct to raise spades, since a club lead by East gives the defenders five tricks before declarer obtains the lead.

In four spades, South must win the first diamond in his hand, leaving dummy’s ace as a later entry for a heart trick. He next draws one round of trumps, but must then attack hearts by leading to the 10. West signals count, letting East know he should duck the trick.

When dummy’s 10 holds, South can get back to his hand using dummy’s remaining trump. He then draws East’s last trump and runs a few more for good measure. This cannot hurt him and may embarrass the defenders.

Finally, South leads his second heart to dummy’s jack. This time, East wins and shifts to a club honor, letting the defenders take two club tricks. But declarer now has the rest.

If South had drawn all the trumps before leading hearts, he would have been unable to cross back to hand safely after dummy had won the first heart. He would have had to lead clubs. The defenders would take their two club tricks and knock out the diamond king before South had the chance to lead a second heart.

When faced with a blind opening lead against one no-trump, don’t fall for the idea that you should always lead a major rather than a minor. Look for a good lead first; only when in doubt should you favor the major. Here, a club is a far safer lead than a major. I’d go with the club two, not the 10, but either card could be right.


♠ A 8 4
 Q 9 4 3
 7 4
♣ Q 10 9 2
South West North East
      1 NT
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 2019. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


Iain ClimieJuly 1st, 2019 at 7:41 pm

HI Bobby,

Would you consider 2N as South today over 1N on the basis that 9 tricks are often easier than 10? OK it fails today but give East the CA and life is easy.



bobbywolffJuly 1st, 2019 at 11:31 pm

Hi Iain,

Yes, I would not only consider it today, but at matchpoints I would likely do it (having apologies ready, but in fact and with whatever result is achieved, not secretly thinking I had erred).

The logic is bass actward since the better the spade suit the more one should choose NT over spades. Of course there are other factors since in NT a partnership can have a totally unstopped suit and not have the luck of the opponents leading something else.

However, in bridge a player or partnership can never me rated on any one hand (when difficult judgment is involved), but rather how often their judgment hits the mark, particularly so when a big swing is involved.

Playing only aces and cinches in either bridge or poker is hardly ever the answer, but being right much more often than wrong, is where it’s at.