Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 25, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
1 NT All Pass    

Opening Lead:10

“Here lies a clerk who half his life had spent

Toiling at ledgers in a city grey,

Thinking that so his days would drift away.”

— Herbert Asquith

Looking at today’s deal from the 2009 NEC Cup, the source for all this week’s deals, you might think that this is another dull partscore.


You play one no-trump, the defenders leading two rounds of diamonds, and your sole aim is to get two club tricks before the opponents have seven winners. If spades are 3-3 or the club finesse wins, you are home. What if neither eventuality comes in? How should you play clubs to develop an extra trick before you lose two?


While watching this deal on my computer, I heard Jack Zhao opine that it is right to run the club seven at trick three. This loses when East has the doubleton club jack but gains when he has club jack-nine with at least one more additional card. The important thing is that it works here!


The most curious thing of all about the deal is that duplicated hands were in play throughout the event but the only declarers who actually guessed clubs to make their contract were Fu Zhong (Jack’s regular partner) and Ricco van Prooijen of the Netherlands, an ex-teammate of Zhao, who spends a lot of time in the Netherlands. Interestingly, Fu started his attack on the club suit by leading the 10 — equivalent to the eight but with the psychological edge that his play gains when second hand forgets to cover from an original holding of jack-third or jack-fourth, as well he might!

ANSWER: Your partner’s double does not demand a club lead here, but it strongly suggests he has clubs well enough under control that he believes declarer is not odds-on to make his game. I would not lead my singleton club — I have enough time to shift to the suit later on. I would lead a spade, knowing my partner must have at least a couple of cards in that suit.


South Holds:

Q 10 6 3
J 8 3 2
K 9 4 3


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