Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 17, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


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

Opening Lead:K

“Nothing’s better than more, more, more

Nothing’s better than more.”

— Stephen Sondheim

The two main forms of duplicate-bridge scoring are matchpoints (generally used in pair events) and IMPs (generally used in team events). At matchpoints, overtricks are important. At IMPs, like rubber bridge, making — or setting — the contract is vital.


That said, cover up the East-West cards and plan your play at the two different forms of scoring when West leads the heart king against three no-trump. It is clear to duck the opening lead, for at most you have 11 tricks. At trick two, West predictably continues with the heart queen. What now?


At matchpoints the chances of making 11 tricks are too great for it to be sensible to duck again. So you win the heart ace and test the diamonds, but when they do not break, you have to go one down. This is because East can win his club ace and lead a heart to his partner.


At IMP scoring, you should duck the second heart, discarding a diamond from the dummy. Now West’s best defense is to switch to a diamond (continuing hearts allows you to set up diamonds without letting West on lead). You win the ace and then play the club 10 from the dummy. You can later play another club to establish at least one club trick to bring your total up to eight. At this point you would you need either spades to break or a squeeze. Alternatively, East may rise with the club ace to play a third round of hearts, but either way all roads lead to nine tricks.

ANSWER: When partner introduces a minor in third seat, he normally has either a decent hand or a decent suit; but that is no reason to lead clubs on this auction — it is far more likely to be East’s suit than North’s. The LEAST likely suit for partner to hold is diamonds (otherwise he might have opened that suit). All of this points to a heart lead.


South Holds:

10 6 3
J 9 5 3
Q 10 6 2
J 4


South West North East
Pass Pass 1 1 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