Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, June 28, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: All

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


South West North East
    1 2♣*
Dbl. 2 3 Pass
3 NT All Pass    
*Both majors

Opening Lead: 10

“Though the sky be too dark for dim eyes to discover

The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder,…

Yet their hands shall not tremble, their feet shall not falter.”

— William Morris

Today’s deal comes from a Women’s trials held in the UK a few years ago, and it shows the benefits of exploring all the possible options in the play before committing yourself to a decision.


Some tables played five clubs, but three no-trump was the most popular contract here. At most tables, a spade was led and the suit cleared. At this point many declarers simply cashed the club and heart aces, crossed to their hand with the diamond ace, and took the club finesse, expecting East to be short in clubs because of her announced major-suit length. When the club jack lost to East’s queen, declarer was soon one down.


When Liz Roberts was declarer, she was not in such a hurry. She could see that, although East was likely to be short in clubs, that was by no means a certainty. So she set about discovering what she could about the hand before making her crucial play.


She also cashed the club and heart aces, but before continuing clubs, she played the king and ace of diamonds. When East showed up with a singleton diamond, declarer decided that East rated to have 5-5 distribution (rather than 6-5) and played clubs from the top, landing her no-trump game. Of course, if East had turned up with a doubleton diamond, the club finesse would have been guaranteed to succeed.

ANSWER: Your best attack is to lead the diamond queen, rather than a fourth-highest heart. If you can find your partner with decent diamonds, maybe you can promote the spade nine to the setting trick one way or another. A low heart lead might work if the defense needs to go passive, but with the black suits splitting, that seems unlikely.


South Holds:

K 9 6
10 7 5 4 3
Q 6
J 7 2


South West North East
  1 Pass 1
Pass 2 NT Pass 3
Pass 4 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 2010. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact


David WarheitJuly 14th, 2010 at 2:40 am

Minor point, but Roberts also succeeds no matter what if someone has QJ doubleton of diamonds.

Bobby WolffJuly 14th, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Hi David,

Good point and probably should have been mentioned in the text, although it would be clear for all to see.

Sometimes space requirements cause a few shortcuts in the description. Sad, but better than not being able to present a bridge column at all.

As always, a thank you for your eagle eye.