Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, January 10th, 2011

Dealer: South

Vul: E-W


K 9 7

4 2

Q 10 4 3

A 10 7 5


J 8

K Q 6 3

9 5

J 9 8 4 2


10 6 5 4 3

10 9 8 7

A 8

K 3


A Q 2

A J 5

K J 7 6 2

Q 6


South West North East
1 NT Pass 3 NT All Pass

Opening Lead: four

“A word to the wise isn’t necessary — it’s the stupid ones that need the advice.”

— Bill Cosby

It was Gordon Gecko who famously opined that greed was good. At the bridge table, just as in the stock market, you will sometimes find that bulls and bears make a living but pigs get slaughtered.


In today’s deal it was not uncommon for West to lead a low club against three no-trump. Despite the absence of a Stayman inquiry, leading from a moderate five-card minor is just as likely to work as leading from a chunky major.


And so it proved at many tables, when South decided to be a pig and ended up as bacon. When he played low from dummy at the first trick, East won his king and was not slow to shift to a heart. Declarer could not now avoid the further loss of three hearts and a diamond — down one.


Had declarer seen the risk, he might well have asked himself whether taking the finesse against the club king was really worth it. If he was prepared to give up on overtricks, he had a safe line for the contract. He simply rises with the club ace at trick one and goes after diamonds. With the club queen and 10 to acts as stoppers, there is no lie of the club suit that will give the defenders more than three tricks to go with their diamond ace. Thus declarer is sure to get to nine tricks before the defenders come to five winners.


South Holds:

A J 6 4
8 4
Q 9 3
Q 6 4 3


South West North East
Pass 1 Pass 2
All Pass      
ANSWER: Your natural reaction may be to lead a club, trying to collect your tricks where you can. But given that dummy rates to have short hearts and three (or maybe four) diamonds, don’t you want to stop declarer from playing the hand on a crossruff? Some might say that, on this auction, first you lead a low trump, then you look at your hand. I would not go that far, but I would lead a low trump here.


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 2011. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact