Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 14, 2009

Dealer: North

Vul: None

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


South West North East
    1 Pass
3 NT All Pass    

Opening Lead:10

“A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.”

— Plato

This week’s deals are from the Beijing Mind Sports Games of last year. Today’s deal is an interesting exercise in percentages.


After an unopposed auction the Dutch South had to play three no-trump on the predictable heart-10 lead. If you play on diamonds, you might go down even when the suit splits since you have to lose two diamond tricks and might lose three spade tricks too. In other words, you need both diamonds and spades to behave against proper defense.


That was the approach South followed, and when diamonds were 4-2 offside, down he went. Every other pair brought home the game, but, to be fair, many declarers reached the contract from the North seat. When East lead a top spade, their task was considerably easier.


Incidentally, if, as South, you do lead the spade nine from dummy and East plays low smoothly, would you not run it (in case West has a doubleton ace or king), thus losing to the actual lie of the cards? Few Easts would be able to play low without a flicker.


When the same deals were played in the women’s event, Sabine Auken (West) earned her swing single-handedly. After the auction shown, where the one-diamond opening guaranteed only two diamonds, she led the diamond queen!


Since this was her partnership’s systemic lead from the king-queen, declarer took the ace, played back the suit at once, and was down immediately.

ANSWER: It is rare to see a hand with no semblance of a sensible lead, but this is it. Since your cards appear to be lying reasonably well on defense, I would feebly suggest the diamond four (second from a bad suit) as the most passive lead. The heart king might work, particularly if you want to get written up in the newspapers. But if you disagree with me, I’m not sure I could defend myself.


South Holds:

J 9 6 2
K 9
6 4 3 2
Q 9 4


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