Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, February 8, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W

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


South West North East
2 Pass 2 Pass
2 NT Pass 3♣* Pass
3 Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead:2

“Certain phrases stick in the throat, even if they offer nothing that is analytically improbable.”

— John Russell

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” is a fair statement to make. But what if you need two birds? Would you be prepared to grab the first and not go after the second?


Today’s deal saw a greedy declarer go for the maximum and finish up with less than he needed. Declaring three no-trump after an auction in which North had used Stayman to look for a 4-4 major fit, he was delighted to receive the lead of the club two. He won cheaply in hand with the nine, cashed the two top spades to unblock the suit, then tried the club ace. When the suit split 4-1 — as he should have known that it probably would have — he could no longer reach dummy to take the two spade winners there. Eventually, he had to lead hearts and diamonds out of his hand, ending up with only seven tricks.


The prudent declarer who looks ahead appreciates that the club jack in dummy is his passport to the winning spades. But he can only utilize that card if he preserves both small clubs in his hand. Accordingly, he avoids the false economy of winning the first trick cheaply in hand. Instead, he captures the club lead with his king, unblocks the A-K of spades, and later uses the club jack as an entry to the board to take dummy’s spade winners.

ANSWER: This auction should not dissuade you from leading a club. When the opponents bid like this, they do not announce a lock on the club suit. Partner may or may not have length or strength there, but no other lead looks remotely attractive. So you might as well lead from what you know to be length, rather than hit one of declarer’s suits.


South Holds:

10 3
J 7 6 2
Q 9 6
K J 9 2


South West North East
  1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 2 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