Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, December 28, 2009

Dealer: South

Vul: None

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


South West North East
1 NT Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 4 All Pass

Opening Lead:K

“Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man;

But soon or late the man who wins

Is the one who thinks he can.”

— Walter D. Wintle

Today’s deal is all about instant gratification and the need to refrain from taking your tricks prematurely. Contrast what might happen at two different tables. At one, East is a grabber; at the other, East has learned that everything comes to him who waits.


Look first at the bidding, where North and South have adequate high cards to bid game. A major-suit game with a 4-4 fit is usually safer than three no-trump. When North finds the spade fit, he has enough values in his long suits to drive to game, not just to invite game.


Against four spades the best defense is for West to lead a top club and continue clubs for a second and third round. Imagine declarer ruffs that and advances the spade queen. East takes that and exits optimistically with a heart. Declarer wins and draws trumps, then tests the hearts and determines that West, if anyone, must be the player with long diamonds. So he cashes dummy’s ace, leads to his king, takes the diamond finesse, and claims his contract.


At the other table, when declarer leads trumps, East withheld his spade ace for the first two rounds, thus insuring the defeat of the contract. If declarer now leads diamonds before drawing all the trumps, East can ruff in. But if declarer draws a third round of trumps, East wins and leads his fourth club. This forces dummy to ruff, leaving East with the master trump.

ANSWER: The form of scoring will affect your opening lead. At both rubber and team scoring, a case can be made for a heart lead. That suit is the one where you need least from partner to set the game. Conversely, at pairs scoring, you would perhaps lead a club. Both the two and six are acceptable choices, but the spade eight is the lead least likely to cost a trick.


South Holds:

8 7 2
A 6 5
Q 10 2
9 6 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