Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dealer: North

Vul: E/W


J 8 5

J 7 5 2

10 4

Q 8 3 2


A 10 6

K 9 8

J 9 7 5

J 9 5


K 9 4

A 10 4

Q 8 6 2

10 6 4


Q 7 3 2

Q 6 3

A K 3

A K 7


South West North East
    Pass Pass
1 NT All Pass    

Opening Lead: 5

“Remorse sleeps during a prosperous period, but wakes up during adversity.”

— Jean Jacques Rousseau

How should South set about playing one no-trump on a low diamond lead? The first careful play South should make is to put up dummy’s 10. Who knows, it may hold the trick! Assuming East covers the 10, I’m guessing many declarers would duck the trick, on general principle, win the next diamond, then go after hearts. Some might cash the four club winners early, hoping for a defensive error, but the result ought to be the same.

The point is that whether South leads a low heart to the jack or runs the queen from hand (hoping for a defensive error), the defenders are in control. They should emerge with three heart tricks, two spades, and two diamonds.

Mrs. Guggenheim (South), who hates to duck tricks, might do better here. She would win the first diamond, thereby preserving an exit-card. She can now make one no-trump simply by cashing the four club tricks (pitching a major-suit card from hand) and the second diamond trick. Then she exits with the third diamond. The defenders can win only two diamonds plus their four aces and kings before giving declarer her seventh trick with one of her major-suit stoppers. They have to lead one of the majors, and whichever one they broach, declarer gets to establish the third round of that suit by simply preserving her queens and jacks till they are good.

Note that if diamonds are not 4-4 (and clubs 3-3), you have no realistic chance to make your contract whatever you do.


South Holds:

J 8 5
J 7 5 2
10 4
Q 8 3 2


South West North East
  1 2 2
ANSWER: You suspect the opponents can make a slam , so have to decide if immediate action from you will push them there, or will generate too large a penalty against you. I assume you will make about six or seven tricks in hearts, so if the vulnerability permits it, jump to four hearts. At unfavorable vulnerability, where your partner might have a better hand, a simple raise to three hearts would suffice.


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

1 Comment

Bobby WolffOctober 28th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Hi bridge lover,

If ever there is a column hand with an important message this one is it.

That message shows the advantage of playing 2nd and 4th on a trick, even if it is only for one trick. Especially so, since that trick becomes the contract fulfilling one.

After winning the first diamond trick (opening lead), try the clubs and when they are 3-3 cash the fourth one, lead a diamond to your other honor and then relinquish the lead to the opponents by leading your last diamond, who after cashing their diamonds will be forced to break a major suit enabling the declarer to eventually, (after two spades and two hearts are cashed by them along with their two diamonds) take the contract fulfilling trick. With one hand, a newbie bridge player might then understand the advantage of forcing the opponents to play 1st and 3rd to a trick, allowing you, the declarer, to sit in the cat bird seat.