Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 21, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
4 All Pass    

Opening Lead: K

“The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

It takes most beginners a while to master the concept of the finesse, but once they have grasped the idea, they tend to overuse it. Look at today’s deal in four hearts. If you want a hint about playing the contract, remember that no suit exists that plays better if you lead it, as opposed to having the opponents lead it for you.


On a top club lead, what would happen at most tables? The average player would draw trumps, take the spade finesse, and complain about his luck after going down a trick.


By contrast the expert wins the club ace and ruffs a club. Then he plays three rounds of trump ending in dummy and ruffs the last club. Having eliminated that suit, he exits with a diamond and waits for the defenders to cash their three diamond tricks. But what do they do next? If West is on lead, declarer can claim the rest immediately. But if East is on lead, the best he can do is exit with a spade. Declarer plays low from hand (the finesse of the spade jack can wait, but declarer must get the most out of dummy’s spade nine). When the queen pops up, declarer has 10 tricks. If West has the spade 10 but not the queen, South is still safe; he wins dummy’s spade king and finesses the jack.

ANSWER: From three small spades I might lead high here because there is the possibility of a successful shift. But with four spades, fourth-highest is the least confusing card here. Since our side has nine spades, our best defense will surely be to lead and continue spades.


South Holds:

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


South West North East
    1 1 NT
2 2 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