Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, October 18, 2010

Dealer: South

Vul: None


K 6

A 6 3

K 8 4

Q J 9 7 4



Q 10 9 4 2

J 6 5

A 6 5 2


A 9 7 5 2

J 7

Q 7 3

10 8 3


Q J 10 8 4

K 8 5

A 10 9 2



South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
2 Pass 2 Pass
2 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead: 4

“Heaven be their resource who have no other but the charity of the world, the stock of which, I fear, is no way sufficient for the many great claims which are hourly made upon it.”

— Laurence Sterne

The traditional opening event of every national tournament in the United States is the Charity Pairs. On this deal from a recent charity game, most of the field reached three no-trump and, in a display of charity to their opponents, generally failed to apply the correct technique.

The auction put West on lead with an easy attack of the heart 10. With the heart suit lying as it does, you (South) must consider your first move carefully.

If the heart suit splits 4-3, it is irrelevant whether you win the first round of the suit or the second . But see what happens if you take the first heart and drive out the spade ace. (If you lead the club king, West will duck, and normal play thereafter will lead to your defeat.) When East takes the spade ace and returns the heart jack, West overtakes and can clear the suit while retaining the club ace as an entry. The bad spade split leaves you a trick short.

The key play is to duck the first heart (often the right play when you have no other danger suit, and must knock out two key cards). Then win the second heart in hand. Now you have started to sever the defenders’ communications. The point is that East will have no hearts left when you drive out his spade ace. He has to shift, letting you dislodge the club ace at your leisure. Ducking at trick one makes the difference between an undertrick and an overtrick.


South Holds:

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


South West North East
  1 Pass 1
Pass 2 Pass 3 NT
All Pass      
ANSWER: Rather than looking for a miracle in partner’s hand, try leading a heart, hoping that partner holds any of the missing three top hearts. If you think about it, declarer’s failure to look for a heart game and dummy’s failure to raise hearts make partner something of a favorite to hold heart length or strength.


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