Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, April 13, 2009



Vul: E/W

5 3 2
4 3 2
J 8 7
A 4 3 2
West East
9 4 8 7 6
Q 9 J 10 8 7
K Q 9 6 A 10 3 2
Q 10 8 6 5 J 9
A K Q J 10
A K 6 5
5 4
K 7


South West North East
1 Pass 1NT Pass
3 Pass 4 All pass

Opening Lead: K

“Make haste! The tide of Fortune soon ebbs.”

Silius Italicus

In today’s problem, from the fertile mind of Eddie Kantar, it is worth noting the point in the auction that North’s jump to game facing a game-forcing hand with the majors shows three trumps and a BAD hand. With more you would bid three spades and hope partner could cue-bid now.

Now to the play in four spades, after ruffing the third diamond. When your side suit (here, hearts) has a third- and possible fourth-round loser and you are cursed with only low trumps in the dummy, you have to choose the right time to give up the lead.

Your main problem is how to dispose of your fourth heart. Let’s look first at what does not work. Drawing all the trumps leaves you with two heart losers; drawing two rounds of trumps before playing on hearts lets East win and play a third trump. And if you play three rounds of hearts at once, West gets to ruff the fourth heart with a higher trump than dummy’s.

Instead, duck a heart at once, win any return, and play the spade ace-king, leaving a low trump at large. Only now do you cash the top hearts. If hearts divide 3-3, draw the remaining trump and claim. If hearts are 4-2, hope that the player with the odd trump also has four hearts (as in the diagram). If so, you can ruff your heart in dummy. If the player with the two hearts has the long trump, tomorrow is another day.

ANSWER: The choice is between leading the heart king or a spade. I can see how the heart lead might cost, but bear in mind that your partner is relatively weak. Since he has bothered to come in, he ought to have a decent suit; so lead a heart. If for no other reason, that ought to keep partner happy!


South Holds:

9 8 5 4
K 7
J 10 9
A 10 4 3


South West North East
1 1 1NT
Pass 2NT 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 2009. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


bruce karlsonApril 27th, 2009 at 7:33 pm

Were I playing 1NT forcing, as North, I suspect I would pass this rag but, if not forcing, bid 1NT. It seems to me that the opps will come in if partner has a 12 or 13 point opener and I pass and, if they do not, we should be OK. If I force my partner to bid up, we may be in avoidable trouble. If we get an overcall and partner passes, I have another shot and partner now knows I am on a bad hand but do have 3 spades. As noted, this hand makes game but needs a skilled navigator and a fortuitous lie.



bobbywolffApril 29th, 2009 at 5:52 am


There are many close decisions in bridge, and this hand is one of them. It is not right or wrong to keep the bidding open. Obviously the disadvantage is that, by keeping it open, the partnership may wind up one too high, whether that be at the two, three, or four level. The advantage in bidding is that we may make a game or possibly steal the hand from conservative opponents and either make it or go down less than they can make.

It is not important what one does, it is only important to be right when one does it.