Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, April 19, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: E-W

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


South West North East
5 All Pass    

Opening Lead: King

“People of quality know everything without ever having been taught anything.”

— Molière

Deciding to follow the principle of bidding to the maximum at your first turn when at favorable vulnerability, you open five clubs. There are, after all, two opponents and only one partner. After everyone passes, how should you play the hand on the lead of the diamond king?


Naturally you ruff, but what do you do next? Instinct tells you to take the trump finesse, rather than playing for the trump king to drop. If West has two clubs, they are twice as likely to include the king as to be two small cards.


When the finesse holds, you would normally hasten to draw trumps and lead a heart to your queen. That would be natural — but wrong.


If the heart finesse is right, it can wait. Far better is to lead a trump to the eight at trick two, then play a spade toward your queen. If this loses to the king on your left, you can take the heart finesse later on. If East has the spade king, he must use it or lose it. His best play will be to shift to a heart, and now comes the next trap. If you finesse, West wins his king and plays back his second club to cut you off from the spades. Instead rise with the heart ace, unblock your spade queen, draw the last trump, cash the spade ace to pitch a heart, and concede one trick to the heart king.

ANSWER: Opinions differ on whether you should trust the opponents in auctions like this. If you had a sensible alternative to a heart lead, you might make it; but nothing else looks remotely attractive, and East may well have no more than a single heart stop. So lead a fourth-highest heart as your best chance to set up and cash winners for your side.


South Holds:

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


South West North East
1 1 Pass 1 NT
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