Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 16, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: E/W


J 7 6 5

K J 10 4

A 6 4

A 5


8 4


J 10 8 7 3

Q 10 9 4 2


A 10 2

A 9 8 7 2


J 8 7 3


K Q 9 3

Q 6 5

K Q 9 5

K 6


South West North East
1 NT Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 4 All Pass

Opening Lead: 3

“Let such teach others who themselves excel,

And censure freely who have written well.”

— Alexander Pope

In today’s deal South plays four spades after he opened a strong no-trump and Stayman located the 4-4 fit. Put yourself in East’s seat: your partner leads the heart three, and you must plan the defense.

Since South has shown a balanced hand, he cannot have a singleton heart. Your partner would have led the top of a doubleton; thus he has clearly led a singleton heart — but don’t give him a heart ruff straightaway. If you do so, you can count on three tricks for your side, but you will have no likelihood of a fourth winner, unless partner’s meager assets include the club king.

The key point to remember is that there is no hurry to give your partner the ruff, because you have the trump ace. Win the heart ace and switch to your singleton diamond. When you win the ace of trumps, you will be able to play the heart nine as a suit-preference signal for the higher of the two nontrump suits. West will give you a diamond ruff for one down.

The lesson from today’s deal is that although it is a priority to give partner a ruff as soon as you can, if your side has a control in the trump suit, you will sometimes be able to work out that other actions should take precedence over immediately giving or taking a ruff.


South Holds:

J 7 2
K 9 3
8 7 5 2
Q 4 2


South West North East
  1 Pass 2
Pass 3 Pass 3 NT
All Pass      
ANSWER: It’s a close choice between a spade and a club, and either declarer or dummy could turn up with length in either black suit. That said, I prefer a club lead. Your holding in the suit is better, and you are more likely to catch partner with a decent unbid club suit than a decent unbid spade suit.


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