Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, September 20, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: All


A 10 8 4


A 10 8

A 9 4 3



K 9 5 2

Q 9 2

K 10 8 7


Q 9 6 2

10 8 6 4 3

J 7 5 4


7 5 3

J 7

K 6 3

Q J 6 5 2


South West North East
    1 Pass
1 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead: 2

“Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.”

— Samuel Butler

Your partner opens one club and you hold five clubs and 6-9 points. What is your response? You know that a jump would be pre-emptive and a simple raise would be inverted (showing a limit raise or better). What’s left?

Today’s South compromised sensibly enough with a response of one no-trump. With such a strong hand and secure stoppers in every suit, North saw no reason merely to invite game but went all the way. Thus the partnership ended up in the no-trump game from the wrong seat.

Declarer had his first reprieve on a heart lead, when dummy’s queen held the trick. What next? South rejected the idea of crossing to hand with his diamond king to take the club finesse. Instead, he laid down the club ace and scowled when East discarded. There was no way back: the defenders could establish their five winners before declarer had nine.

Needing only four club tricks to make his contract, South should have taken a safety-play in clubs to guard against any adverse split. Admittedly, cashing the club ace suffices if East has all four clubs. However, the low lead toward the South hand wins if either player has all four clubs, for it gives declarer the extra entry to dummy needed to finesse against West’s club 10. If declarer wastes his diamond entry to take the club finesse, the entries to defend against the 4-0 split will also be fatally scrambled.


South Holds:

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


South West North East
  1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 3 NT
All Pass      
ANSWER: This is the sort of club-holding where leading an honor rates to block the suit or worse. If either partner or dummy has a doubleton club honor, be it the ace, king. or even the 10, you may need to lead a low club to unscramble the suit to best effect. Typically, fourth highest is right from any two honors unless they are supported by a large intermediate — here, the 10 or nine.


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