Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, July 20, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
1 4 4 All Pass

Opening Lead:6

“Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.”

— Shakespeare

When this hand came along in a World Championship pair event, some declarers failed to follow the advice given by every bridge teacher to every beginner: “Before touching a card from dummy — even a singleton in the suit led — plan the play of the whole hand.”


Every West led the club six against four spades, and most Souths inserted dummy’s nine. East played the queen, South won with the king, but now had no quick entry to dummy for the spade finesse. She could try a club toward the ace, but West was able to ruff, and the game ended two down.


At one table, though, the bidding and lead were identical, but declarer paused for thought at the critical moment.


Recognizing the lead as likely to be from shortage, South rose with dummy’s club ace to play the spade queen, catering to East’s holding the guarded spade king. When this held, a low spade collected the missing trumps. Eventually, one of dummy’s clubs went on the diamond queen, and a subsequent successful finesse of the club jack landed the game.


The key to this deal is to work out that West’s opening club lead is far more likely to be from shortage than from length. If so, there is no need to take an immediate club finesse. You can do that after drawing trumps since you can always reach dummy with a diamond ruff.

ANSWER: Dummy will be putting down a strong hand with four diamonds and five clubs. Declarer’s direct jump to three no-trump suggests he has spades well under control, and your partner’s failure to overcall makes it unlikely you can accomplish much in spades. So, with misgivings, I’d lead the heart nine. Maybe declarer has a weak four-card suit and dummy some vulnerable honors.


South Holds:

7 4
9 8 7
J 8 4 3
K 9 3 2


South West North East
  1 Pass 1
Pass 2 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