Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 8, 2009

Dealer: East

Vul: None

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


South West North East
3 Pass 4 All Pass

Opening Lead:9

“The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.”

— Sun Tzu

Since the Open Trials take place this week, this week’s deals all come from the week-long USA Trials for Beijing of 2008. Today’s deal sees a pair from the winning team bidding the cards up, and playing them well too.


Jeff Meckstroth’s decision to raise three spades to game looks extremely aggressive.


How would you play the game on the lead of the club nine? The opening lead was covered by the 10, jack and ace. Only one card was good enough at the next trick and Eric Rodwell duly found it — the club five, to establish the club suit. East won with the club king and switched to the heart jack. What now?


If you win the first round of hearts with the ace, you will go down. You will have no way to avoid the loss of two hearts and a trump trick. Rodwell allowed the heart jack to win and that was the end of the road for the defense. East chose to play another heart, but now Rodwell could win, cash the diamond ace, ruff a diamond to hand, and then ruff a heart in dummy.


Suppose instead that East had played a trump (high or low) instead of switching to hearts. Declarer would then have been able to persist with the trump suit, eventually drawing trumps and discarding his heart losers on the established club suit. The key move was to duck the first round of hearts. Look out for that theme — it comes up surprisingly frequently.

ANSWER: On an auction of this sort, the opponents will have nothing to spare in the way of high cards, so you should be looking to defend passively — but you have no passive lead! That being so, you might as well lead your best suit, spades, hoping to find your partner with one of the two top honors in that suit plus a little more — the nine or extra length perhaps.


South Holds:

Q 10 8 3
6 5 2
A 4 2
J 7 5


South West North East
  1 Pass 1
Pass 1 Pass 2 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