Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: E-W

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


South West North East
1 Pass 1 Pass
1 Pass 2 Pass
3 Pass 4 Pass
4 Pass 5 Pass
6 All Pass    

Opening Lead: 10

“Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Which is more important at the bridge table: technique or table presence? For example, how should you play six clubs today on a heart lead?


Let us look at the technically superior line first. You can increase your chances over a simple finesse in either spades or diamonds by winning the heart ace, then playing the diamond ace and ruffing a diamond high. Next, you cash the club ace, lead the club 10 to the jack, and ruff another diamond. If the diamond king has fallen, you have a home for your heart loser. If not, you take the spade finesse now. This line allows you to take your chances in order; the bad news is that the extra chance you have created for yourself is really not all that significant — less than 10 percent.


Personally, I much prefer the psychological line of winning the heart ace at trick one and, without hurrying your opponents inappropriately, smoothly calling for the spade queen and observing your RHO’s reaction. Even against a real expert, I would wager that if East has the king, he would have to be truly inspired not to cover the queen, or at least to consider doing so. If the spade queen is not covered, then you should assume it is because West has the king. Accordingly, you should rise with the spade ace, draw trumps, and take the diamond finesse to discard your heart loser. Against anything but outstandingly quick-witted defenders, this line will succeed approximately three times in four.

ANSWER: The range for an overcall of one no-trump in the balancing seat is approximately 12-15 (maybe a little less if you overcall the opening of a minor suit). So in context you are far from a minimum and should raise to three no-trump, UNLESS you think your partner does not know, or has forgotten, what the range of your action was!


South Holds:

Q 7
A J 5
A Q 5 4
J 8 7 4


South West North East
  1 Pass Pass
1 NT Pass 2 NT 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 2010. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact