Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, October 12, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: None

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


South West North East
1 Pass 1 NT Pass
3 Pass 4 All Pass

Opening Lead:K

“Don’t get mad, get even.”

— Joseph Kennedy

In today’s deal look only at the East cards and the dummy. Against South’s contract of four spades your partner leads the diamond king, to which you follow with the jack. Declarer wins with the ace, then leads the heart two to dummy’s 10, West contributing the nine. What do you return at trick three?


If you are on lead at trick three, you have already handed your opponents the contract! Partner showed an even number of hearts when he followed with the nine, almost certainly a four-card suit, for if South held four hearts, he might well have bid them over the no-trump response.


You cannot prevent declarer from gaining access to dummy to take the spade finesse, but you do not have to give him anything extra in hearts. If you duck the first heart but take the second, declarer is restricted to one heart trick. However, if you win the first heart, South can later overtake his heart queen and score two heart tricks while discarding a loser from hand. He can then take the spade finesse for 10 tricks.


If you let the heart 10 hold at trick two, declarer will successfully take the spade finesse, run some trumps, then exit with the heart queen. Now, so long as East and West have thrown away their losing hearts, they will prevail, taking one trick in each red suit and two club tricks.

ANSWER: When dummy has made no attempt to play in declarer’s first-bid suit, there is an inference that dummy will be short in that suit. And since declarer did not repeat his hearts, I would lead a low heart. I might consider a spade if my intermediates were much better. Leading either minor suit seems more likely to cost than to gain.


South Holds:

Q 7 5 3 2
Q 9 6 4
8 7
K 3


South West North East
  1 Pass 1
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