Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, October 19, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
1 NT 2* 2 Dbl.
2 All Pass    
*Hearts and diamonds

Opening Lead:9

“Yabba dabba doo!”

— Hanna and Barbera

In this deal from last summer’s first qualifying session of the Von Zedtwitz Life Master Pairs, the field generally defended spade contracts, with four spades requiring the spade queen onside, and rather more.


However, with a fairly friendly lie of the cards, 10 tricks were made more often than not. At our featured table, North-South stopped in two spades after North had made a cue-bid of two hearts as a takeout of the red-suits. When South bid two spades, North saw no reason to jeopardize his plus score. And that turned out to be a good idea because West, Dick Hanna, led his singleton club. Declarer won in dummy to run the spade jack.


Dick now kept his partner from error by immediately underleading the heart ace. If he had cashed the ace before leading a heart to the king, his partner might have shifted to a diamond, even though any diamond losers were relatively unlikely to get away.


The immediate underlead left Larry Hanna on lead with the heart king, and he knew that if his partner was that desperate to get him on lead, it must be because he wanted a ruff. A club return left declarer needing to take a second spade finesse just to get back to plus 140.


While this was not a complete top for East-West, since some pairs had defeated their opponents’ game, it was the best that they could do on this deal.

ANSWER: It is better to lead the diamond two, suggesting you have only a four-card suit, than an honest diamond four. Since your partner has a Yarborough, confusing him will not matter. But if declarer believes you have only a four-card suit, he may take an unsuccessful line by knocking out your aces, rather than taking a heart finesse, which he might do if he thinks you have five diamonds.


South Holds:

A 8 5
Q 9 7
A 6 5 4 2
A 10


South West North East
  1 Pass 1 NT
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


David WarheitNovember 4th, 2009 at 11:01 am

When West wins the spade ace, if he cashes the heart ace and then leads another heart, he has the choice of 4 different hearts to lead. If he leads the lowest one, the three, why wouldn’t his partner be certain that what west wanted returned is a club, the lower of the 2 possible suits?

Bobby WolffNovember 4th, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Hi David,

To quote 2d Citizen from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar after Mark Antony’s famous, Friends, Romans, Countrymen’s speech mourning the great Caesar’s death: “Methinks there is much reason in what he says”.

Yes, I think West’s best play would be the Ace of hearts before the 3 is continued to partner’s hoped for King (declarer’s 1NT opening promised at least a doubleton heart). Obviously, as you clearly pointed out, West’s choice of heart would strictly tell partner his preference for which suit to return and the lowest heart led (he already had promised length) is explicit to return the lowest suit.

David, while I am sure to you that your comments are obvious and somewhat mundane, the truth is that they are very helpful to all our wonderful bridge loving (or about to) readers. Thanks for writing and joining our bridge crusade to create even more interest in our wonderful cerebral game.