Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 22, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: None

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


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 6 All Pass

Opening Lead:10

“The surest way to prevent seditions (if the times do bear it) is to take away the matter of them.”

— Francis Bacon

One of the terms bandied about in the world of bridge is “strip and endplay.” It is a strategy in which declarer removes all the potentially inconvenient exit-cards from the defenders, then puts them on lead to open up a suit they would rather not have to play.


Sometimes, as today’s deal demonstrates, it may not always be possible to strip a side suit entirely from both your hand and dummy. Still, a partial strip is better than no strip at all.


For example, you arrive at a contract of six spades and West leads the club 10. How can you possibly avoid losing one trick in each red suit? The answer is that there are no guarantees, but you do have a play that will give you a sporting chance.


You draw trumps, strip off the clubs, play the two top hearts, and exit with a diamond. If the player with the diamond ace has no more hearts, a ruff and sluff will be coming your way. You will be able to discard your losing heart while ruffing in dummy.


To succeed in your slam, you needed a specific lie of the hearts. But note that if you do not cash the two top hearts, then when East wins his diamond ace, he exits in hearts, and you must lose a heart at the end.

ANSWER: This double suggests a heart stack, or just general suspicion that the cards are lying badly for declarer. It is not an absolute command to lead a heart, but it does suggest not leading a diamond unless your own hand tells you it is right, which is not the case today. Start with the heart eight. It is unlikely to do something for declarer that he cannot do for himself.


South Holds:

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


South West North East
  1 Pass 1 NT
Pass 2 Pass 3
Pass 3 NT 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