Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 16, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: None

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


South West North East
1 NT* Pass 3 NT All Pass
*12-14 points

Opening Lead:4

“Nevermore let the great interests of the State depend upon the thousand chances that may sway a piece of human frailty.”

— Sir Thomas Talfourd

At bridge, “timing” refers to the order in which key plays are made. Good timing often lets you take advantage of as many chances as possible. In today’s deal, cover up the East and West hands and plan your play in three no-trump.


West leads the heart four, you play low from dummy, East plays the two (suggesting a three-card holding), and you win with the seven. Your most likely nine tricks look to be four clubs, two hearts, one spade and two diamonds. However, since spades offer some prospects too, do not put all your eggs in one basket.


You cannot afford to give up the lead twice or you will lose those two tricks plus three hearts. Therefore, you definitely need the diamond finesse and should make that play first.


When West follows with what is presumably a singleton king, you have three diamond tricks in the bag. If clubs break 3-2, there is no problem, but if they are 4-1, you will need to turn your attention to spades.


Accordingly, after taking the diamond ace, you should play the ace and king of clubs. If both opponents follow, you concede a club and claim 10 tricks, but if someone shows out, change tack and run dummy’s spade 10. West can win with the king and clear the hearts. But now you test diamonds, then take a second spade finesse for your contract, making two spades, two hearts, three diamonds and two clubs.

ANSWER: The deal comes from Krzysztof Martens’ “University of Defence: Opening Leads.” Martens says that a diamond lead is relatively unlikely to strike gold, so you should pick a major. But if partner knew a spade lead would beat the game, he might have doubled to get you to lead your shorter major. That being so, a heart lead looks like the better choice.


South Holds:

10 5
J 9 7 3
8 7 5 4 3 2


South West North East
      1 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