Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 15, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


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

Opening Lead:10

“I found myself in a dark wood, for the straight way was lost.”

— Dante Alighieri

After North’s one-no-trump response, South has no way to find out if partner’s values are in the right suits — diamonds and spades. It seems like a logical gamble to bid four hearts. However, if South’s second bid were only three hearts, North would have adequate values to bid four hearts.


How should you play the hand on the lead of the spade 10? The compulsive finesse taker will have to decide which finesses to take and which to avoid.


With both diamond honors offside, South will be set if he plays dummy’s spade queen at the first trick. Instead he should win the spade ace, draw trumps in three rounds, then lead a diamond to dummy’s 10. He can ruff the club return and take another diamond finesse. Even though that loses, the 3-3 diamond split means he no longer requires the spade king to be onside — and a good thing too, as the cards lie.


If by chance East had both diamond honors and the suit does not split, South can later fall back on the spade play by leading toward the dummy’s queen


In summary, by playing low from dummy and winning the spade ace, declarer overcomes the poor lie of the diamond honors whenever diamonds divide 3-3 OR if the spade king is right. Rising with the spade queen means he can not exploit the favorable diamond split, because the defenders take four tricks before he can take his discard.

ANSWER: This double sounds as if it requires an unusual lead — either a diamond or a club. Since you MIGHT have led a diamond without the double, it looks right to lead a club. Lead a middle spot card to dissuade partner from underleading his heart ace if he ruffs the lead!


South Holds:

Q 8 4 3 2
J 7 5
9 6 4 2


South West North East
  1 1 1
3 4 Pass 6
Pass Pass Dbl. 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