Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, March 23, 2009

Dealer: North

Vul: None

A Q J 6 5
10 7 6 2
8 7
West East
10 3 8 7 4 2
A 5 8 3
A K J 10 5 4 6 2
9 4 2 K 10 7 6 3
K 9
K Q J 9 4
Q 9 3
Q 8 5
South West North East
1 Pass
2 3 3 Pass
4 All Pass

Opening Lead: K

“The U.S. has broken the second rule of war. That is, don’t go fighting with your land army on the mainland of Asia. Rule One is don’t march on Moscow. I developed these two rules myself”

— Field-Marshal Montgomery

We have all been taught that when partner leads an ace or king against a suit contract, we should play high-low, echoing when we have a doubleton. That is all very well in theory but, as always, some common sense is needed.

In today’s deal, East played the diamond six at trick one when West led the king. West, quite understandably, assumed that his partner could overruff dummy’s 10 and so continued with two more rounds of the suit. Declarer ruffed high in the dummy and played a trump. A club switch now was too late, and the game rolled home.

East should have seen that he had to persuade West to switch to a club at either trick two or trick three. If East plays the diamond two at trick one, West is likely to find a club switch immediately, but even if he continues with a second top diamond, he will then “know” that East still has the diamond queen and that a third diamond would give declarer a ruff and discard. A club switch is now the obvious way for him to proceed.

Incidentally, can you see why it is logical for West to switch to a club rather than a spade? If East has the spade king, he will always come to it even if West switches to a club. But if East has the club king, there is a real danger that South will discard clubs on dummy’s spades.

ANSWER: The spades can wait, but there may be an extra trump trick or two to be generated by playing on diamonds early, before trumps are drawn. Best therefore is to lead the diamond six. Even when you have an apparent trump trick, as here, it is surprising how frequently getting a ruff may help your side’s cause.


South Holds:

J 8 4 2
K 9 8 4
6 3
Q 7 3
South West North East
Pass 1 Dbl. Pass
1 Dbl. Pass 2
2 3 All Pass

If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, feel free to leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2009.


bruce karlsonApril 6th, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Unspoken rule #1 of bridge is do not play to the first trick until you have a plan?? If so, this example makes clear that this rule, normally applied to declarer, is equally important to defenders. Too may players forget that signals are not to only to share information with partner but to tell him what you want him to play!!!

Ordered “The Lone Wolff” and looking forward to reading it.

Bobby WolffApril 6th, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Well said Bruce and, if anything, it is understated. To go further, unless one’s defensive partner wants partner to mind his signals, he would be better off to signal opposite to what he wants, since the disadvantage in signalling is that his worthy opponents are also listening and may glean enough from his opponent’s signals to find out where important cards are located.

Kinda cat and mouse, detective work which is being shown in neon lights, but is, at least to me, one of the great allures of our wonderful game. As you get more into it, you will feel the excitement growing within you!

Enjoy your new book and eventually let me have your honest take on it.