Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, January 22, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: N/S

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


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

Opening Lead:3

“Thou art a fool —

Indeed, the greatest of fools thou art,

To be led astray by the trick of a tress

By a smiling face or a ribbon smart.”

— Paul Dunbar

Today’s deal, from the World Teams finals at Maastricht, saw Lorenzo Lauria at the helm in four hearts.


On a spade lead you would seem to need trumps to play for no loser to have any real chance. However, the opening lead is the heart three, which goes to East’s jack and your king. A diamond to dummy’s king holds the trick, and when you lead a second heart from dummy, East follows suit with the remaining small spot. What next?


Lauria now had to decide whether West had led a small trump from his doubleton queen (where he might have had hopes of scoring that card if he had not led the suit) or whether he had led a singleton trump.


Lauria eventually guessed right for three reasons. The first was that East might have followed with the heart queen from a three-card suit at the first trick, thus making the doubleton-holding more likely. The second and more important reason was that if the finesse lost, a spade back would doom him. However, if he misguessed by playing trumps from the top, he could now revert to playing on diamonds. If the diamond 10 fell in three rounds, he would have two discards for dummy’s spades. And the third reason was that to fall into a deeply laid trap of this sort in the heart suit often feels like a huge psychological blow. Better to give up on fractionally the best percentage line to avoid being fooled in this way!

ANSWER: Although your partner does not promise the world’s fair when he comes in over a strong two-club bid, you have enough in diamonds to raise the ante to three diamonds. This is not so much because you hope to buy the hand, but because you want to rob the opponents of a round of bidding and would like to try to get a diamond lead against a final contract declared by West.


South Holds:

9 7 4
10 8 7 5 4
Q 10 4


South West North East
  2 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