Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dealer: West

Vul: N/S

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


South West North East
  2 3 Pass
3 NT All Pass    

Opening Lead:J

“The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts.”

— Clarence Shepard Day

Today’s deal comes from my favorite bridge book of 2009, Larry Cohen’s “My Favorite 52,” published by Master Point Press.


As South you reach three no-trump after West has pre-empted. On the lead of the heart jack you count nine tricks, so long as diamonds split. What could go wrong?


Well, if you win the heart in hand and play a club, the defenders might meanly play three rounds of the suit (leaving the hearts blocked), and they may then have clubs to cash when they get in with the spade ace.


Say instead that you win the heart king, test diamonds, and then play a club to the jack and king. Back comes a heart. Now, if you cash your third heart, the defenders have set up their suit before you have established your club winner (if West has the spade ace). If you do not cash the third heart, but lead a club to the queen, hoping the defenders take the trick, they meanly duck it! Curtains, if East has the spade ace.


Far better is to take the heart king and lead the club queen. If the defenders duck, you cash out; if they win it, you can ensure a club re-entry to hand.


One more wrinkle: If you win the heart king and play the club queen, an unkind East might win and shift to the spade queen. Does he have Q-J-9, in which case you must cover the second spade, not the first? Or does he have his actual holding, when failure to cover the queen will be fatal? Fortunately, there are not many opponents who would be so unpleasant.

ANSWER: There is no reason to do anything outlandish here. Give preference to two diamonds and let partner decide whether he has any game interest. You have a maximum in high cards, but no fitting honors for your partner, so stay low until asked to do otherwise.


South Holds:

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


South West North East
    1 1
1 NT Pass 2 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