Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Friday, February 12, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
    5 All Pass

Opening Lead:K

“How delicious is the winning

Of a kiss at Love’s beginning,

When two mutual hearts are sighing

For the knot there’s no untying!”

— T. Campbell

There is no correct answer to the question of whether to lead an ace or a king from a suit headed by both cards. This column favors the lead of the king, but to express a fair and balanced view, I am going to quote a contrasting opinion from “Defensive Signaling” by David Bird and Marc Smith, from the Bridge Technique Series (Master Point Press).


They suggest that on the lead of an ace or queen, you signal attitude; on the lead of a king, give count. If partner leads an ace against a suit contract at the four-level or lower, you assume that he also holds the king, as unsupported ace-leads are rarely successful.


However, when the contract is at the five-level or higher, the lead of an ace denies the king, as partner would then have led the king from ace-king, asking third hand to give count. That player should encourage a continuation only when holding the king.


Here, South has opened five diamonds, and you lead the heart king. Partner gives count with the heart eight — a standard high-low when holding four. Partner rates to have four cards, not two, on the auction, so you continue with the spade ace, this time asking for attitude. East encourages with the spade 10 to indicate possession of the king. Another spade from you sees the contract go down. Had you continued with the heart ace at trick two, declarer would have ruffed and later discarded the losing spades on dummy’s winners.

ANSWER: If you were unambitious, you would simply raise to four hearts; but a better and almost risk-free course of action would be to jump to four diamonds. This cannot be natural (three diamonds would be diamonds, game-forcing), so the call shows short diamonds and sets hearts as trumps, promising some slam interest. Let partner decide whether he wants to advance past four hearts.


South Holds:

A J 6 4
A K 10 2
10 8 6 5


South West North East
    1 NT Pass
2 Pass 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