Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 1, 2009

Dealer: West

Vul: All

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


South West North East
  1 1 Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
2 NT Pass 3 NT Pass
Pass Dbl. All Pass  

Opening Lead: Your choice…

“Great lords have their pleasures, but the people have fun.”

— Baron de Montesquieu

In England there is an annual bridge match between the Houses of Commons and Lords at the Portland Club. Today’s deal comes from a match a few years ago that was won comfortably by the Commons, bringing the overall standing to a 15-15 draw.


Look first at the North-South bidding, where both North and South bid too much. An overcall does not have to be as strong as an opening bid, so South should simply have responded one no-trump. North would then probably remove to two diamonds and end in two spades. Equally, with only nine points, North had no reason to bid over two no-trump.


Now, as West, would you double the final contract? At the table the double was based more on West’s four tricks and a general lack of confidence in the auction than anything else. Having decided to double, have you chosen your lead? West led his fourth-highest heart and declarer could not be prevented from making eight tricks. It was not a triumph — but not a tragedy either.


Later, West asked the onlookers if they would have led the heart jack to pin dummy’s 10. While that lead is a true long-shot, a good case can be made for leading the heart ACE. There is no prospect of partner gaining the lead, so West has to defend this hand on his own. That lead works against this layout, and also against a singleton king or queen or a doubleton 10 in the North hand.

ANSWER: Just as in today’s deal, there is a lot to be said for the lead of the spade ace. You are not likely to be able to get partner on lead for the duration of the hand, and would like to try to pick off a doubleton king or jack of spades in declarer’s or dummy’s hand. Leading the ace gives you the flexibility to continue with a high or low spade.


South Holds:

A Q 10 7 4 2
10 2
A 3
K J 4


South West North East
1 Pass Pass Dbl.
Pass 2 Pass 2 NT
Pass 3 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 2009. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact