Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 18, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
1 1 2 Pass
2 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead:7

“Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

The frumious Bandersnatch!”

— Lewis Carroll

Today’s deal presents a problem for North-South in both the bidding and the play. Look first at South’s rebid. Although he has three-card support for his partner, the positional nature of his spade stop suggests rebidding no-trump rather than raising hearts. After South’s rebid, North has no interest in any game other than no-trump.


West might do better as the cards lie to lead a low diamond, but after South’s opening call, his choice of a low spade looks natural enough. How should declarer play when allowed to win the first spade cheaply?


The key is that South must set up four heart tricks. He does not mind losing the lead to West, but must prevent East from getting on play, or a second spade lead through his tenace will spell disaster. He must therefore lead a club to dummy’s king, then lead an intermediate heart from dummy, playing low from his hand unless East covers. When the finesse wins, South can repeat the heart finesse through East if necessary, untangle the heart winners, then get back to dummy in the minors, ending up with 10 tricks.


The contract is ironclad, no matter how hearts divide, by taking a first-round finesse through East. The second-best play, of cashing the heart ace before finessing, loses when East has four or five hearts to the queen.

ANSWER: Your partner rates to have a zero-count; the most he could have is a red jack, so you really do not want to lead either of those suits. Safest is to lead a spade rather than a club, and the spade nine covers the unlikely possibility that your partner has four spades to the 10, when a low-spade lead might cost your side control of the fourth round of spades.


South Holds:

J 9 3
Q 7 4 2
A 4
J 6 3 2


South West North East
Pass 2 Pass 2 NT
Pass 4 NT Pass 6 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


Paul BetheFebruary 1st, 2010 at 11:17 pm

As an aside, if East fails to card properly, South may make 11 tricks.

If declarer plays as suggested: club to dummy, finesse hearts away from danger twice. Heart to the King, cash clubs, and diamond to the Ace for the last 2 hearts. For the last 3 cards, declarer keeps both spades, and a diamond.

A good East and partner avoids getting bored on this hand, and drops the Jack of diamonds under the queen to show the Ten. (this allows West to abandon diamonds, and avoid the throw in)

A complacent play of the Ten will lead partner to think that declarer has the Jack, and now West may think they are squeezed on the hearts, and pitch to 2 spades and 1 diamond (thinking that it is equivalent to holding 3 spades.)

BlairFebruary 1st, 2010 at 11:43 pm

I like playing low from dummy and winning the first spade with the J…West’s last three cards should be the KQ of diamonds and the Ace of spades.