Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, December 4, 2009

Dealer: West

Vul: N/S

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


South West North East
  1 Pass 1
4 All Pass    

Opening Lead:K

“A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.”

— James Joyce

Peter Weichsel was declarer in this deal from the U.S. International Trials of 1973.


What should West lead against the spade game?


It is difficult for West to know whether to be aggressive or passive on defense. I’m sure many of you would have settled for the quiet trump lead, which, as it happens, would defeat the contract. The heart lead did not cost a trick, but it did allow declarer to threaten club ruffs. After the heart lead there was still plenty of work to do in four spades. Can you see declarer’s best play?


Weichsel ruffed the heart lead and immediately led a low diamond from his hand. When John Swanson (West) ducked, North’s diamond queen won the trick. Declarer could lead a club to the jack, and eventually a club could be ruffed in dummy for the 10th trick.


It would have done West no good to take his diamond ace at once. If Swanson had risen with the diamond ace and shifted to a trump, Weichsel could have won in hand and cashed the diamond king. Now a spade to the jack draws all the trumps. The diamond queen is good for one discard of a club, and declarer can lead a club to the jack and ace, establishing his club king for the 10th winner.

ANSWER: When you responded only one heart, you showed a bad hand (no more than nine points), and your partner’s jump to three hearts was a strong raise. I’d expect about a 20-count and four or five hearts opposite. I think you have just enough to bid four hearts since your fifth trump and side-suit pattern look to be useful, though I would not redouble!


South Holds:

J 4
J 9 5 4 2
Q 8 7 6
8 2


South West North East
  1 Dbl. Pass
1 1 3 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