Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 28, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
2 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead:6

“It is far more important to be able to hit the target than it is to haggle over who makes a weapon or who pulls a trigger.”

— Dwight Eisenhower

Everybody knows how to take a finesse, right? Of course, part of bridge expertise is knowing when not to take a finesse. A fine example of that theme comes in today’s three-no-trump contract.


The opening lead of the spade six goes to East’s 10, and you duck. You win the spade return and take the losing club finesse, win the next spade, then run dummy’s clubs and eventually take the diamond finesse. Alas, both finesses lose and the spades are 5-3. You go down one and complain about your bad luck.


… or do you? You were trying to take as many tricks as possible, but your target should have been to take nine tricks — not the same thing. Since you know West is the danger hand because he has the long spades, you should knock out the diamond king, his only possible entry to the spades, as quickly as possible. Go back to trick three and play the diamond ace followed by the queen. West wins his king and is likely to play a spade to your ace (a heart shift might be more sensible, but it achieves nothing today). Now you run the club queen and East can take his king when he likes. But he cannot prevent you from scoring three clubs, three diamonds, two spades and one heart.


If you do not believe me, try replaying the deal with the minor-suit kings swapped. The recommended line gives up on overtricks, but does not jeopardize the contract.

ANSWER: Whatever anybody tells you, I will be convinced to my dying day that when fate deals you an A-K-J, it is so that you will know what to lead at trick one. Yes, declarer might have long clubs, with a top club lead costing a tempo. Equally, declarer may well have only three clubs, and not leading a club will make partner’s job on defense impossible — he will never guess you have so much in that suit.


South Holds:

8 5 4 2
10 9 5
10 9
A K J 5


South West North East
Pass 1 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