Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dealer: West

Vul: All

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


South West North East
  3 Pass Pass
3 NT All Pass    

Opening Lead:10

“The brave man inattentive to his duty is worth little more to his country than the coward who deserts her in the hour of danger.”

— Andrew Jackson

When this deal came up in a teams match, both Wests judged well not to lead a spade against three no-trump. A spade lead might be vital if partner has two small spades and an entry, but the lead will concede an important trick if partner has one spade or none, and it may still be fine not to lead the suit if East’s doubleton spade includes the 10.


Both Wests instead selected the club sequence; this was entirely reasonable, and it was just bad luck that a diamond might have worked better. That said, how would you declare three no-trump on the top club lead?


One declarer quite reasonably led a diamond to dummy’s nine. A spade shift by East let West cash his two spades and play a second diamond, establishing the defenders’ fifth trick.


In the other room South preferred to rely on an endplay rather than hoping to find West with a key diamond card. At trick two he exited from hand with a spade to cut the defenders’ communications. West won the trick and could not cash his spade ace or it would have established the ninth trick for South. So West found the diamond shift, and East won the trick cheaply. Back came a club, and declarer led a diamond to dummy again. He eventually got in again to set up his diamond eight for his ninth winner, while he still had a heart entry to hand to cash it.

ANSWER: You invited to game, and your partner turned you down, suggesting diamonds would be a safer partscore. Yes, you have splendid fillers in diamonds and have hearts well under control, but with no quick tricks in the side suits you will surely be vulnerable to attack in spades if you play in no-trump, and the defenders will have time to work that out. So pass three diamonds and hope he makes it.


South Holds:

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


South West North East
    1 1
2 NT Pass 3 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


RossFebruary 27th, 2010 at 11:04 pm

well played by the second South!

Paul BetheMarch 1st, 2010 at 9:32 pm

The defense could have succeeded, if after winning the spade sever West accurately continues clubs. If declarer wins in hand, and leads a diamond to the 9, East wins, and switches to hearts.

Now, declarer is short an entry. If he wins in hand, and continues diamonds, a heart is continued. South must win in dummy to preserve an entry to hand, but then when East wins the 3rd diamond, a club blocks declarer from scoring all 4 heart tricks.

This can be more generic in that the defense needs to play clubs twice and hearts twice. Then playing the suit in which dummy will win, to block the position.