Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, December 14, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


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

Opening Lead:10

“No man who is not willing to bear arms and to fight for his rights can give a good reason why he should be entitled to the privilege of living in a free community.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

Today’s deal, which might be described as the art of the possible, gives both sides the chance to play well. West leads a spade against South’s contract of three no-trump, reached after South had shown a balanced hand with 12-14 points.


To start with, South must duck the first spade and win the second. (In the unlikely event that spades are 6-2 with the diamond honors split, this initial duck will exhaust East of his spades.) Next comes the misdirection: South should sneakily cross to dummy with the club queen to advance the diamond queen, as if taking a finesse.


A smart East will still rise with the diamond king at once to protect his partner’s entry. Then he can play a third spade, and West will be able to cash out to set the hand when he wins his diamond ace.


Should East be able to find this rather unnatural defense? He could argue that if declarer has the diamond ace, the defenders won’t set the hand. East knows from the opening lead that South has two high spades (surely the spade ace-king), two club tricks, and one heart. If he has the diamond ace, he has at least four diamond winners. Therefore, East’s only legitimate chance to beat the hand comes from finding West with the diamond ace. East should see the need to protect his partner’s entry so that West can reach his spade winners.

ANSWER: When you are on lead against what you assume to be a sacrifice, with your side holding more than half the deck in high cards, your first reaction should always be to lead a trump to prevent a crossruff. It is highly unlikely that declarer will be able to establish a minor in dummy and make the hand; far more frequently you will reduce declarer’s chance of taking his trumps separately.


South Holds:

8 4
A J 6
K Q 6 3
J 9 7 4


South West North East
    1 1
2 4 Pass Pass
Dbl. 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