Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, April 12, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: Both

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


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

Opening Lead: King

“Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.”

— Charles Dickens

To mark the 10th anniversary of the last Bermuda Bowl to be held in Bermuda, this week’s deals all come from that event. In 2000 Fred Gitelman of Canada was part of the team that won the Transnational silver medal. Having missed the ideal contract here, he had to demonstrate that he was capable of recovering from the auction by finding the best line of play.


When North, focusing on the diamond stop, used the fourth suit instead of showing delayed spade support, he put Gitelman into an awkward contract of no-trump, rather than the more comfortable spade game.


Of course the defense led a top diamond, and the diamond-king lead conventionally requested an unblock, so East dutifully played the jack. Gitelman ducked the first trick and won the next round of the suit. Now the game appears to depend on the spade or the club finesse, but each of them is rather less than a 50 percent chance. Gitelman saw the possibility that he might combine his chances in the two suits by tackling them in the right order. He cashed the ace of clubs, then the king, intending to take the spade finesse if nothing nice happened. When the club queen popped up, Fred did not need the spade finesse, but simply ran for cover by taking his nine top tricks.


This strategy of combining two chances is sometimes referred to as an echelon play and is a very useful way to get two bites at the apple.

ANSWER: If you play fourth-highest leads in this position, you may prefer to lead second from a bad suit and start with the club seven. But there is certainly something to be said for simply leading the true-count card, the three. If you play third and lowest leads, then you must lead the four. You cannot sensibly combine second-highest leads with this method.


South Holds:

A 4 2
K Q 5
9 7 2
9 7 4 3


South West North East
  1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 3
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