Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 31, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


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

Opening Lead:3

“This was the most unkindest cut of all.”

— William Shakespeare

At the semifinals of the Life Master Pairs in Boston, I saw a deal that might go down in the annals as “The Final Insult.” Steve Landen sat West, and despite his meager assets, found he had a real part to play.


Landen led a diamond against three no-trump, and his partner won the ace and continued the suit to declarer’s king. Note that only a spade lead sets six no-trump (and six clubs is cold because declarer can ruff a diamond in the short hand for the 12th trick). After winning the diamond king, declarer ran six club tricks to put both opponents under pressure.


East had to discard all his diamonds early, hoping that West could guard the suit. In the five-card ending, East kept four hearts and bared his spade king. Meanwhile declarer also decided to save his hearts. He too came down to a singleton spade. West, who was under no pressure yet, kept two spades, a diamond and two hearts.


Declarer now played the heart ace and a heart to the king, then cashed the heart queen, reducing everybody to two cards. Both South and East were about to come down to one heart and one spade. Dummy, still to discard, had a doubleton spade ace and a losing diamond. Landen, with his Yarborough, had sole guard of both of those suits. Since he had to discard before dummy, he was squeezed. Accordingly, declarer finished with 12 tricks for plus 490 and a fine score.

ANSWER: Many people will try to persuade you to lead a major rather than a minor against no-trump. Admittedly, when the opponents have game-going values and choose not to look for a major, you may infer that dummy does not have a biddable major. But on an auction of this sort, either opponent can just as easily have four spades as four clubs. Your club sequence is a far more attractive lead than your broken spade suit.


South Holds:

J 8 4 3
A 8 3
8 4
J 10 8 3


South West North East
      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