Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: All

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


South West North East
1 Pass 2NT* Pass
3 NT** Pass 4 Pass
6 All Pass    
*Game-forcing trump raise
**Extra values, balanced

Opening Lead: Queen

“The end of man is an action and not a thought, though it were the noblest.”

— Thomas Carlyle

A piece of advice that recurs in bridge columns is that if you reach a contract that you can see is excellent, you should go out of your way to consider what might go wrong, then protect yourself against that eventuality.


Today’s deal (surprise!) provides one such example. You play in six hearts on a diamond lead, which you win. You test trumps, protecting yourself against East’s having the length by leading to the heart king, but they break 2-2. Then you lead out your three top spades, discarding your diamond loser, and note that East turns up with six spades while West has only two. You ruff the last diamond to hand and now know that West is the only defender who can hold long clubs. If the suit is 3-2, you are home, of course, but what if the suit is 4-1?


You should lead a low club from hand and duck West’s card — a line that will ensure your slam unless West holds Q-J-10-8, in which case you were doomed anyway. If West plays his low club, then East must win the first club and give you a ruff and discard. If West plays a high club on the first round, then he can do no better than exit with a high club. You win in hand and are left with the 9-7 of clubs with the K-5 on the board and can finesse West out of his remaining honor.

ANSWER: In third seat with a marginal opening bid, your first thought should be to open with your best suit. Even if you play five-card majors, as most of us do, it will generally work better to bid one heart with a hand of this sort. You shut out diamonds (the suit LHO is most likely to be bidding) and get your partner off to what you assume to be the best lead.


South Holds:

K J 8
K Q 4 2
5 4
K 5 4 2


South West North East
    Pass 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